Wildlife Park hosts ‘Lemur Week’ to help save threatened Lemurs from extinction

By Jessica Durston - 26 May 2022

  • Baby lemur twins on mum's back (Image credit Philip Joyce)

    Baby lemur twins on mum's back (Image credit Philip Joyce)

To highlight the plight of the world’s most endangered Lemurs, Cotswold Wildlife Park hosts its annual ‘Lemur Week’ from 28 May – 5 June 2022.

(Image credit Philip Joyce)

Cotswolds' aim is to raise awareness and funds for the Park’s conservation projects helping to save the most threatened Lemurs on earth from extinction.

As part of the Lemur-themed fundraising activities this year, visitors to Cotswold Wildlife Park will have the chance to officially name the newest additions to the Lemur troop* – adorable Ring-tailed Lemur twins.  

The playful siblings are the first offspring sired by new breeding male Bernard who arrived at the Burford collection in May 2021. He immediately bonded with dominant female Hira – a lemur described as an exceptional and experienced mother who had already given birth to 18 babies prior to the new arrivals.

Both are part of a European Breeding Programme (EEP). The wildlife park said females are only sexually receptive for just one or two days a year so the window of opportunity for males to father offspring is small. After a gestation period of approximately 134 days, females give birth to one or two young.

The Park’s youngsters can be seen exploring the large open-air Lemur exhibit Madagascar - home to 31 free-roaming Lemurs and bird species native to the island of Madagascar.

Chris Kibbey, Assistant Manager of Cotswold Wildlife Park, said:Breeding successes are always great news, but baby Ring-tailed Lemurs really are something special. They are just beginning to develop the confidence to climb off their mother and try small pieces of food.?They’re like little toddlers with stripey tails causing mischief and having fun”. 

Since TV presenter and comedienne Ruby Wax officially opened Madagascar in 2008, there have been an impressive 64 Lemur breeding successes at the wildlife park.

These births are said to be a testament to the dedication of primate keepers and the Park’s commitment to the European Breeding Programme (EEP).

During lockdown in 2020, its breeding group of Great Bamboo Lemurs (Prolemur simus)  - one of the rarest primate species on earth, successfully bred at the Park for the first time.

A second breeding success followed in 2021 taking the total number to four. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) described Greater Bamboo Lemurs as “the most endangered Lemur in Madagascar”.

The Park is also home to another rare and iconic Lemur species – the Crowned Sifaka (Propithecus coronatus). Very few zoological collections in the world keep these enigmatic animals. History was made in 2017 when Cotswold Wildlife Park became the first collection in Great Britain to successfully breed this species.  

Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, said: “Lemur species in Madagascar are under tremendous pressure from habitat destruction and the rapidly rising human population. It is vital that we raise awareness for this unique group of primates before it is too late.

"At Cotswold Wildlife Park, we are committed to conserving this species and we fund an extremely important site in Madagascar as well as participating in several other conservation projects with the Cotswold Wildlife Park Conservation Trust – most notable for the Crowned Sifaka and Greater Bamboo Lemur. We are extremely privileged to keep both of these species at the Park - they are extremely rare in captivity and they are fantastic ambassadors for our fundraising efforts”.

He added: “The work of the project Helpsimus has directly led to the Greater Bamboo Lemur being removed from the World’s 25 Most Endangered Primate list - a real achievement. Our work with Sifaka conservation has led to several new sites being identified and protected”.

Members of the public can read more about the Park’s conservation projects at: https://www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk/conservation/. 

The Park has also recently installed a Lemur webcam in memory of Madagascar volunteer Linda Dongworth. Linda worked as a volunteer in the walkthrough enclosure until April 2021.

Funds for this installation were generously provided by Linda’s husband David. The webcam can be viewed at: https://www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk/animals-gardens/web-cams/.

Normal admission price applies for visitors attending this Lemur Week event at the Park. 

As part of ‘Lemur Week’, visitors will have the chance to take part in a variety of Lemur-themed fundraising activities and learn more about these charismatic primates. Events include ‘Name the baby Lemurs’ competition and a Lemur drawing competition.

Winners of each will win a Lemur Encounter. There will also be a Lemur stall and daily keeper talks at midday inside the Park’s Lemur walk-though exhibit – Madagascar  (open daily from 11.30am – 3.30pm). 

The ‘Name the Lemurs’ competition will take place daily during ‘Lemur Week’ in Madagascar and is only open to visitors to the Park. A donation to the Park’s Lemur charities is required for entry to this competition.

The winner will be picked at random and notified by 26 June 2022. As well as naming the newborns, the winner will receive a Lemur Encounter (Terms and Conditions apply – with dates to be arranged by Cotswold Wildlife Park).  

All funds raised will go to the Park’s dedicated Lemur conservation projects. 

More information about the park and E-tickets are available at www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk 

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