The South Carolina Aquarium has welcomed two red ruffed lemurs to their new home in Madagascar Journey! Josephine and Avior are getting acclimated to their new home, and we are excited for their debut this Friday, September 18. These furry friends’ journey from the Duke Lemur Center to Charleston went off without a hitch, and the lemurs are beginning to explore all the fun things to do in their new environment.
Red ruffed lemurs are only found in the rainforests on the northeast side of Madagascar. They grow to be roughly 20 inches tall, have a tail that can grow nearly 24 inches long, and weigh between 5.7 and 9 pounds. These primates get their name from the deep red color of their soft wooly fur. In the wild they are opportunistic omnivores, so their diet covers a wide range of foods, from flowers to bugs. Here at the Aquarium they are fed a yummy specialized diet to keep them healthy and happy, which consists of special vitamins and nutrients as well as fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, bananas, grapes, melons, greens, sweet potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, carrots and corn.
Red ruffed lemurs are social animals and live in small family groups. They do everything together, from foraging for food to cuddling together at night. Lemur families spend a lot of time grooming each other and are considered very clean creatures. The Duke Lemur Center has studied the communication system of lemurs and has recorded about twelve different calls the lemurs make to each other in the wild. Some of the lemurs’ calls are so loud they can be heard for miles in the forest.
Unfortunately these adorable and curious animals are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List, meaning that they are critically endangered. Their habitat is now limited to a small 840-square-mile stretch of protected forest that is home to all remaining wild red ruffed lemurs (estimated 1,000-10,000 individuals). Habitat loss is the main cause of endangerment of all lemur species. Habitat loss is caused by human industries, such as logging and mining, as well as hunting and slash-and-burn agriculture, the technique of burning down acres of rainforest for farming.
Come visit the Aquarium this weekend to welcome these lemurs to their new home and learn more about what you can do to ensure the protection of lemurs and their habitat.
To view an extensive digital library of learning resources for veterinary professionals as well as people interested in animal welfare, please visit, https://vettechnicians.org/