RING-TAILED LEMUR (lemur catta)
Habitat: Madagascar, rocky and forested areas. Forages on ground most of the time.
Longevity: 8 to 10 years in the wild - 15 to 18 years in captivity
Gestation: 145 to 150 days
Diet: Fruits and leaves in wild. In captivity - primate biscuits, apples, oranges, grapes, raisins, bananas, lettuce, carrots and whole wheat bread with peanut-butter.
Coming exclusively from the island of Madagascar, these prosimians evolved separately from other primates when Madagascar broke off from Africa. The ring-tailed lemur live in large family groups led by an alpha female. Males within the group are always subservient to females. Although spending most of their foraging hours on the ground, they are extremely agile in the trees, jumping great distances in an upright position using the hind-legs exclusively. The breeding season is synchronized with all females giving birth within a short period of time. In captivity, we expect all of our babies to be born either in March or early April. Young females usually remain within the family group, while young males are usually expelled upon reaching maturity at 2 to 3 years of age.
The ring-tailed lemur, like all lemurs, is an endangered species and is fighting a losing battle for existence in Madagascar. Habitat destruction, logging, over population of human inhabitants and slash and burn farming, have all contributed to the destruction of what was once a beautiful island paradise. Due to captive breeding programs, such as our at the Natural Bridge Zoological Park, there are more ring-tailed lemur in captivity than there are in the wild. Hopefully these animals may serve a a reservoir of genetic material should the need ever arise. The Natural Bridge Zoo maintains several different breeding groups of ring-tailed lemur in other zoological parks. This ensures genetic diversity and allows us to help other parks display these beautiful and interesting animals.