Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Zoo calls for help naming newborn lemurs

Belfast Zoo has called for help in naming their three newborn white-belted ruffed lemurs.

The trio were born in April to dad Wakka and mum Mianta, who have had more than 10 infants since arriving at the north Belfast site in 2009.

The ruffed lemurs are a critically endangered speices.

Senior zoo keeper, Allan Galway, said: “Ruffed lemurs are different from other lemur species, as their babies don’t cling to the mother. Babies are either carried in their mother’s mouth or left in a safe nest in a nearby tree. 

"The triplets are now becoming more confident and mischievous and are starting to leave the nest to explore their surroundings.  This has given us the opportunity to discover the sex of the new arrivals, three little females, and we now need the public’s help to name them. 

People can submit their suggestions on the Belfast Zoo website or by completing a form at the zoo.

White-belted ruffed lemurs are found on the island of Madagascar, which is home to a diverse range of species, many of which are unique to the island. 

As the fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar is home to more than 100 different species of lemur and unique species which are found nowhere else in the world.

However, Madagascar has one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet and more than 80 percent of its forests have disappeared since the 1950s, leaving many irreplaceable species in danger of extinction. 

This is mainly due to ‘slash and burn’ agriculture in Madagascar, which means chopping down a bit of forest, burning the trees and planting rice or crops.

Zoo manager, Alyn Cairns, said: “Some research has estimated that if the rate of deforestation in Madagascar continues, lemurs could be extinct within 25 years. 

"We are home to a number of Madagascan mammal, reptile and amphibian species, including crowned sifaka, red bellied lemur, ring-tailed lemur, Madagascan tree boa, Dumeril’s boa, golden mantella and fossa.

"We work with zoos around the world through collaborative breeding programmes. Every birth is not only a celebration for Belfast Zoo but for the conservation efforts to ensure the future survival of these lemurs.”

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