Did you know that in our wide wild world, lemurs can only be found on the island of Madagascar? Despite their limited range, lemurs are loved by many, which is why this World Lemur Day we wanted to introduce you to our own lemur troops and share a bit more about these incredible animals!
Lemurs belong to a diverse group of more than 100 species and can be found in a wide variety of colors and sizes. These animals range from the 5 inch tall Madame Berthe's mouse lemur, the smallest primate in the world, to the indri, which can be as tall as 3 feet! Though not every lemur species can be visited in Ohio, you can meet three unique species right here at your Akron Zoo.
When you think of lemurs, it is likely that the first species that comes to mind is the ring-tailed lemur. These medium-sized prosimians are known for their gray or rosy brown bodies and long black and white ringed tails which can measure up to 24 inches in length! Your Akron Zoo is home to two male ring-tailed lemurs, Gidro and Nathan. Gidro has been at the zoo the longest, so he is usually in charge, though the two are very social and will sometimes take turns playing the leader. They can often be seen grooming one another, training together, sharing food and even sleeping cuddled together. They like to be near one another, so if one of them ever moves without the other’s knowledge, they will call to each other until they are reunited.
Our ring-tailed lemurs share their habitat with Silvio and Sava, our father/son mongoose lemur duo. Mongoose lemurs are not actually related to the mongoose but instead get their name from their similar coloration and body size. Silvio, the father, can be identified by his hands, which are missing a few digits. He likely had some attitude issues with other lemurs in his previous home and lost the digits in scuffles. Despite his past, Silvio tends to be the more outgoing of the two while Sava prefers to explore. They get along well enough with Nathan and Gidro, but are generally too energetic for the ring-tails and therefore prefer to keep to themselves.
The neighboring habitat is home to four red ruffed lemur sisters, Avatar, Gwen, Ikoto and Zeke (pronounced Zeh-kay). Gwen is the oldest from a previous litter while the other three are triplets. The girls love to bask in the sun in their outdoor yard, participate in trainings and snacking on fruit and cooked sweet potato. The girls often pair off into friend groups within their habitat, and when one sister is unkind to another, the friend will defend her by batting, yelling or chattering at the offender. These ‘pairs,’ which rotate regularly, will share food bowls, cuddle together for sleeping and call for each other if they are ever separated.
Lemurs at your Akron Zoo have lots to do, including participating in trainings at least once a day and receiving enrichment twice a day. Training allows our lemurs to exhibit natural behaviors and participate in their own healthcare. Most of our lemurs will voluntarily perform behaviors that help us with health tracking, including scale training, ultrasounds and even kenneling, which allows us to move our lemurs from their habitat to our animal hospital when needed.
The lemurs at your Akron Zoo are ambassadors for lemurs in their native habitat. Sadly, nearly all lemur species are critically endangered or threatened with extinction due to deforestation and hunting. You can help support lemurs by contributing to organizations that protect lemurs in their native habitats, like the Lemur Conservation Network. You can also support your local zoos, who are helping to raise awareness about our prosimian friends and provide a safe home for these species in human care!
Written by Erica Rymer, PR Coordinator. Published October 28, 2022.