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Dan

The mystery (?) of the free-ranging ring-tailed lemurs...

Copenhagen Zoo, December 2009 I have always been very intrigued by the sign at the cage of the ring-tailed lemurs that says that the young ones can come and go as they please -just don´t try to touch them, you visitors, thank you very much! I never saw this happen until last Sunday when I visited the zoo (and my camera battery had run out of power...). I was amazed as the young lemur getting out of the cage was it was at least half the size of the grown-ups. Possibly bigger - the tail was almost the size of the grown-ups, anyway. I always thought that the small lemurs that could get out of the cage were babies. I looked for some bigger hole in the mesh than the 5 x 15 centimeters that I estimate the rectangles in the mesh to be. But when the young lemur went back into the enclosure he/she just casually snuck in between one of those 5 x 15 centimeter rectangles. I guess these creatures must have a very "agile skeleton" (is that understandable English?)... I mean bones that must be very bendable... I have seen mice disappear having about 3-4 millimeters of height at their disposal, this was sort of a similar experience. Today when I visited the lemurs did not show up at all, it was probably far to cold for them. But in the future I will surely spend a lot more time by this cage in the summertime than I have used to do... PS Is this a common practise in zoos? What is it about lemurs in particular that makes this possible?

The mystery (?) of the free-ranging ring-tailed lemurs...
Dan, 13 Dec 2009
    • Dan
      Copenhagen Zoo, December 2009

      I have always been very intrigued by the sign at the cage of the ring-tailed lemurs that says that the young ones can come and go as they please -just don´t try to touch them, you visitors, thank you very much!

      I never saw this happen until last Sunday when I visited the zoo (and my camera battery had run out of power...). I was amazed as the young lemur getting out of the cage was at least half the size of the grown-ups. Possibly bigger - the tail was almost the size of the grown-ups, anyway.

      I always thought that the small lemurs that could get out of the cage were babies. I looked for some bigger hole in the mesh than the 5 x 15 centimeters that I estimate the rectangles in the mesh to be. But when the young lemur went back into the enclosure he/she just casually snuck in between one of those 5 x 15 centimeter rectangles.

      I guess these creatures must have a very "agile skeleton" (is that understandable English?)... I mean bones that must be very bendable... I have seen mice disappear having about 3-4 millimeters of height at their disposal, this was sort of a similar experience.

      Today when I visited the lemurs did not show up at all, it was probably far to cold for them. But in the future I will surely spend a lot more time by this cage in the summertime than I have used to do...

      PS
      Is this a common practise in zoos? What is it about the behaviour of lemurs that makes this possible?
    • Toddy
      There is no science to this. The lemurs that are allowed to "escape" are young and will ALWAYS return to the safety of the group. The whole group of lemurs used to be let out of the exhibit on little outings a few years back but they got too brave and started venturing away from the zoo so this had to be stopped.
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