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Could and should the ring tailed lemur be replaced by other lemur species in zoos ?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Onychorhynchus coronatus, 12 Nov 2020.

  1. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    This is a bit of a thought experiment that I'd like to try out on this forum.

    The ring tailed lemur is one of the most ubiquitious animals kept ex-situ by many zoos worldwide and has become one of those standard "ABC species" to be seen at the local zoo.

    It is obviously a very popular animal amongst the general public too and I imagine that many visitors attend zoos specifically to see them.

    Granted, it is also an endangered species but could and should it be effectively replaced in some zoos by other lemur species that are in much greater need of ex-situ insurance populations ?

    What do you think ?

    Please share your thoughts on this topic below.
     
    Last edited: 12 Nov 2020
  2. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Thanks to @Dassie rat by the way because his comments on this species in zoos were thought provoking and helped me come up with this thread.
     
  3. CheeseChameleon2007

    CheeseChameleon2007 Well-Known Member

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    Zoos hold Ring-tail lemurs primarily because they are not hard to keep, and they draw attention. They are money-makers, and it is the easiest lemur species to keep so thats simply why they keep them.

    Of course I would love to see a different species, mostly one that would surprise me and fascinate other guests. Zoos used to be a place where you got to see something new, or something to put the guests in aw, and not hold traditional animals. In some ways, that's What I would like to see in zoos, but with some healthy mixes of popular ABC animals in there as well, such as Lions, Tigers, and bears. If I could choose any different lemur species that would be fun to watch, and primarily diurnal, would be the Diademed sifaka. Easily the prettiest species of Sifaka out there in my opinion, and though I have not seen one myself, I have watched a lot of documentaries featuring them and are a childhood favorite.

    The question is "should they and would they switch out the ring-tail lemur?" is a bit of a toss-up, because I certainly think they should at least include different species of lemurs other than the Typical ring-tailed species, but would the general public think this? I think not. But if you think about it, if all the Ring-tailed lemurs were sent back into the wild (Which would honestly help the wild population), years from now they would be considered Rare in captivity. See where I'm going at? Because if we replaced any of these animals that were common in captivity as of now, they would be considered rare if they were replaced, and the new species would be considered common.
     
  4. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I do agree with you that the ring tailed lemur is kept primarily because of its ease of care / husbandry (which contrasts sharply with many other lemur species) and the popularity of the species with the public.

    I should be clear, I'm not advocating a return to the zoo model of displaying rarely seen curiosities for the public but rather questioning whether some zoos can improve upon the conservation of other lemur species by phasing out the ring tailed lemur or putting their efforts into keeping other more threatened species too.

    Again, I agree the public would largely be indifferent or even irritated by replacing the ring tailed lemur with a different lemur species but therein are some interesting questions.

    Wasn't the ring tailed lemur once also an obscure species that no one outside of Madagascar or colonial era France and academic / scientific circles had heard of ?

    Didn't their keeping in zoos (in addition to the pixar films etc) turn them into an iconic animal for many ?

    Yes, this may not have helped any with the situation they are facing in the wild which seems to worsen with every year but could this kind of raising of a profile work with other lemur species such as Sclater's lemur for example ?
     
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  5. CheeseChameleon2007

    CheeseChameleon2007 Well-Known Member

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    For prioritized in conservation, I would choose multiple different lemur species over the ring-tailed. But, I hate being like this because its not that I dont like the Ring-tailed lemur, or I prefer other species over this one, I just think there are some more lemurs in dire threat right now. Indris, James's sportive lemurs, Many small mouse lemur species, Blue-eyed black lemurs, and more. But as I said before, if multiple lemurs were sent back into the wild, the population would grow, tremendously.

    Sorry, I should have questioned what you were asking, It just wasn't that clear what questions you were implying.
     
  6. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but at least in the case of the indri (judging by past attempts to try this) it is likely that it cannot be kept ex-situ due to an inability to adapt to captivity and death. Efforts to conserve the species must therefore be concentrated on its in-situ conservation.

    For other species like the blue-eyed black lemur or perhaps the James's sportive lemur (if this species was to begin to be kept by zoos) being kept more widely by zoos ex-situ could boost efforts to create effective insurance populations.

    Given the enormous pressures these species face in the wild / the likelihood of extinction in the wild and the challenges of in-situ conservation in Madagascar would this not be a better use of zoos resources than just keeping more ring tailed lemurs?
     
    Last edited: 12 Nov 2020
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  7. imaginarius

    imaginarius Well-Known Member

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    This is going to sound very pessimistic and alarmist, but I do not think that makes it any less true. There are over 100 species of lemur, all of which are found only in Madagascar. All of them are endangered. And at the current rate of habitat loss... we will not be able to save them all from extinction. There are just too many different species, many of which do not adapt well to being held in captivity, and the country of Madagascar is extremely poor. There are only so many resources to go around, and with a viable ex-situ population of ring-tailed lemurs, they will most likely be one of the species that we can save. It is very possible that in 100 years, all those forests lemurs live in will be completely gone. So you have to decide which ones are the best candidates to conserve in ex situ populations, because not all of them will make it. Indris, silky sifakas, and the like will never survive in zoos, so they must be the ones protected the most in the wild. The ones that do acclimate best in captivity, like ring-tailed lemurs and Coquerel’s sifakas, will continue to be focused on in the West, I think. Because they could easily be gone in a few decades, too.
     
  8. CheeseChameleon2007

    CheeseChameleon2007 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I knew indri's were unsuccessful in captivity, It was merely an example of more endangered lemur species. Now as for blue-eyed black lemurs, they would be a possible contestant for a more prioritized species of lemur. I have seen them myself at 2 collections, Philadelphia and Como park. I especially like the males of the species, but back to the question. James's sportive lemurs would need a lot more research to hold them in captivity, as for Sportive lemurs in general. A breeding center would be helpful on Madagascar though. All lemur species, are endangered, at this point, anything would be possible to help try to save any of the species. These are the ones that I feel like that would need the most help, but the fact is, lemur species in general should just be helped.
     
  9. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for your comment @imaginarius !

    No, actually I don't think what you've written is either alarmist or pessimistic but rather it is realistic / pragmatic.

    It is becoming increasingly obvious that what is unfolding in Madagascar will be a tragedy for biodiversity and that we will not be able to save all of the species we want to even if we pour our efforts into conservation on the island. It may indeed one day come down to having to triage our efforts and focusing only on those species which we feel strongest about or feel are better able to survive the anthropocene.

    Again, I agree that indri and silky sifakas are unlikely to adapt to ex-situ management and therefore must be conserved in-situ. However, there are an awful lot of zoos that hold ring tailed lemurs and there are also an awful lot of lemur species that unlike the indri or the silkly sifaka are able to adapt to ex-situ management.

    Once again I have to ask shouldn't some zoos be focusing more on these other species that can adapt to captivity than on ring tailed lemurs ?
     
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  10. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I think in general species are better conserved ex-situ within their range country so I agree that breeding centers would be best within Madagascar like the Durrell Trust already have on the island for birds, reptiles and other endangered endemics.

    However, this isn't always possible given the steep challenges of establishing these kinds of initiatives within the country. Even when this is done zoos do play a supporting role and could therefore also keep the species in question ex-situ.
     
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  11. CheeseChameleon2007

    CheeseChameleon2007 Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. I really don't like to think this, and it sort of makes me sick when I type right now, but as @imaginarius said it is not possible to save every species of lemur. Silky sifakas, though how beautiful they are, will probably be extinct in a few decades.
     
  12. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Another thing worth mentioning is that the studbook for the ringtailed lemur has actually recommended zoos to put limits on the number being bred and to keep other more endangered species of lemur.

    So surely this kind of advice should be taken by zoos and put into action ?
     
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  13. CheeseChameleon2007

    CheeseChameleon2007 Well-Known Member

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    Yes? But why didn't you mention that earlier? o_O
     
  14. garyjp

    garyjp Well-Known Member

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    have they tried re introducing lemurs back in the wild ?
     
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  15. CheeseChameleon2007

    CheeseChameleon2007 Well-Known Member

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    Not entirely sure, You or I could probably find out if you like, but Concerning ring-tailed lemurs it would definitely make sense to introduce great numbers in the wild.
     
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  16. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Well I think it is common knowledge isn't it ?
     
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  17. CheeseChameleon2007

    CheeseChameleon2007 Well-Known Member

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    If its common knowledge, than I feel stupid.
    But I really just didn't know, you said it in a "matter of fact" tone, so I assumed it was some side fact that you found out.
     
  18. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    No, I just neglected to mention it earlier in the thread but I suppose I probably should have.

    No need to feel stupid about it though.
     
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  19. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

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    I agree about the diademed sifaka, which I think is the most attractive primate. I thought about it before reading that you felt the same way. The Duke University Primate Center kept one until a few years ago. London Zoo had one in 1908.

    It isn't a case of having no ring-tailed lemurs in zoos. It should be a case of having a more varied collection in zoos. There are many new species that have been discovered and they may benefit from a captive population.
     
  20. CheeseChameleon2007

    CheeseChameleon2007 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I totally agree. More different types of lemurs in zoos would be a lot better in my opinion. More diversity, the greater. But my question is, when newly dsicovered species are found, do you think they should be sent to captivity? Like a special exhibit for recently discovered species? It was just an Idea.