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First Ring-tailed Lemurs in Captivity and Reasons for Their Numbers in Zoos

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Nikola Chavkosk, 24 Oct 2016.

  1. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    Hi zoochatters,

    I was wondering, whether the ring-tailed lemur zoo population was very numerous in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s or the population started to expand from relatively recently. Today it is estimated that there are over 2,000 of them in European zoos only.
    When was the first bringing in (or at least more significant in numbers), of ring-tailed lemurs, in zoos?
    And why they are so numerous, is that result also from numerous founders caught from the Madagascar or it is more because of the biological reproductive success of this species, wich may also be result from diverse founders?
    Do you remmember or know when were the last imports of this species from Madagascar, to zoos?
    Do you know for eventual mass imports from Madagascar?

    All these questions, maybe better to be adressed to older zoochatters though.
     
    Last edited: 24 Oct 2016
  2. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    On Zootierliste there are listed over 350 holders of this species; If we assume that each of them keep at least 5 individuals (but many zoos keep above 10), then the total number goes to 1,750.
     
  3. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Ring-tailed lemurs are relative easy to keep and have been kept and bred already for a long time very succesfull in captivity.
    An example is the Zoo of Pretoria ( South Africa ). Here the first young was born in 1904 and untill 1964 no less then 72 young were born here ( from which 10 twins and one triplet ).
    Also Artis Zoo - Amsterdam was quite succesfull and a pair obtained in 1961 produced 6 young till they died in 1966 and 1967. The young were 5 males and 1 female but 2of these young died already at a young age, 2 were sold and the last 2 young - a male and a female. Later a female came from a German zoo and after several difficulties to bring them together, the Artis-male and the German female started to breed and their first young - a male - was paired with the Artis-female and they also bred succesfully.
     
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  4. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

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    I can´t comment on the beginning of their history in european zoos.

    But they are widespread for these basic reasons: easy and cheap to be kept, easy to be bred (if they are not obese), low mortality, long-lived, unable to swim (ideal for water-moated enclosures), cute appearance and most importantly - well known among children and parents due to Madagascar movies. The number of holders really exploded only after they were made popular by these movies.

    When I think about their history in Czechoslovakia/Czech rep., the only keeper during commie time seems to be Prague. In 1980s, the dominant lemur type in local zoos were brown (species and hybrids of E.fulvus complex) and black lemurs. Then shortly after 1989, zoos frantically scrambled to get varis, they were very popular among zoo directors. Cattas came only to Jihlava and I think Usti, as gifted surplus old animals from German zoos. But only Madagascar movie made cattas so popular among general population that almost all Czech zoos keep them now, while brown/black lemurs and varis almost dissapeared.
     
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  5. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting, thank you both, Jana and vogelcommando.
    After all it seems that population of the ring-tailed lemurs rapidly expanded in 1980s and in 1990s.
    Jana, and now, I guess brown and black lemurs are more wanted by zoos than ring-tailed lemurs?

    AFAIK, Skopje zoo in R.Macedonia never had ring-tailed lemurs until before 4-5 years when finally gets it's first ring-tailed lemurs (10-15), all males, from EAZA, and they were not popular in the Balkans (though most zoos should be improved a lot) before 2000 I think.
     
    Last edited: 24 Oct 2016
  6. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

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    Black lemurs made a comeback recently. But brown lemurs are more or less a lost case. Some old-fashioned zoo directors hold on a breeding group here or there. But they will die out in the long term, zoos in whole Europe phase them out, due to low popularity and cutting down on species.

    Ring-tailed lemurs are being kept and bred increasingly by private persons now, they are still rather expensive, but I predict them to become pretty widespread in a decade or two. The same like Bennets wallabies or tamarins.
     
  7. Maguari

    Maguari Never could get the hang of Thursdays. Premium Member

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    Plus of course, the fact that a lot of 'European' Brown Lemurs are no longer pure (sub)species, through crossbreeding and changes in understanding of their taxonomy.

    I'm all in favour of Ring-tailed Lemurs - they're attractive and engaging (handy when you want visitors to listen to conservation message), they represent an ecosystem under threat and they encourage zoos to keep other Malagasy species alongside them. ;)
     
  8. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Just found a notice that Ring-tailed lemurs were already brought alive to the UK in 1878, don't know hoeever if these were even the first ones.
     
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  9. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Did some more "research" and found that the London Zoo obtained in the period 1883 - 1893 13 Ring-tailed lemurs. During this period 1 birth took place, twins were born on Sept. 8 1884.
    Maybe also intresting: in the same period there were more Lemur-births:
    Black lemur : March 23 1884
    April 2 1885
    March 30 1886
    March 26 1887 ( twins )
    April 30 1888
    June 10 1889
    April 30 1891
    Black-headed lemur : April 28 1890
    March 23 1891
    White-fronted lemur : March 30 1884
    April 8 1885
    March 25 1886
    March 26 1887
    March 20 1888
    Don't know how succesfull London was in raising the young but even so, for this period this was a great archievment !
     
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  10. zoo_enthusiast

    zoo_enthusiast Well-Known Member

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    Interestingly enough, in post-war decades (1950s-60s) all Madagascan lemurs became a great rarity and almost disappeared from European and American zoos (after Madagascar gained independence and completely prohibited export of lemurs). There was one private zoo in French Rivera (owned, I believe, by a Russian immigrant Georges Basilewsky) that was famous for breeding lemurs in those days, and some sources state that only due to those breeding efforts lemurs did not disappear from western zoos entirely. When David Attenborough visited Madagascar to collect animals for London Zoo, he was not allowed to collect any lemurs (except for mouse lemurs) from the wild, though the Madagascar government presented 1 ruffed lemur and 2 ringtails to him at the end.
     
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  11. zoo_enthusiast

    zoo_enthusiast Well-Known Member

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    Ruffed Lemurs were the greatest rarity. I believe in those days there were only 2 specimen in Europe - 1 in Paris and 1 in London. And, of course, sifakas were non-existent in captivity. I suppose Madagascar later relaxed their export rules, and Duke, Durrell, and others were able to collect the breeding nucleus for their populations
     
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  12. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    London Zoo's first ring-tailed lemurs were acquired on 17th December 1834 and the first ring- tailed lemur birth at London Zoo was in 1858,
     
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  13. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Regarding the London and Paris ruffed lemurs:-

    London Zoo acquired a female ruffed lemur from David Attenborough’s “Zoo Quest to Madagascar” expedition in 1960.

    Nine years later, in 1969, the Jardin des Plantes Menagerie (Paris) loaned their male ruffed lemur to London Zoo and a hybrid youngster was born to this pair in 1972.

    The youngster was a black-and-white ruffed lemur X red ruffed lemur hybrid (although in those days the two forms were not considered to be distinct species).
     
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  14. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Did some more research and found some intresting items about Ring-tailed lemurs in the Netherlands for example the donation of a Ring-tailed lemur to Artis - Amsterdam Zoo in 1854:
     

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  15. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    And the birth of a Ring-tailed lemur at the old Rotterdam Zoo in 1929 :
     

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  16. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    The donation of a pair from the Zoo of Cologne to Blijdorp Zoo - Rotterdam in 1961 :
     

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  17. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting thank you vogelcommando.
    From where did the Artis - Amsterdam zoo get the lemur in 1854, as I read the document on Dutch (but don't understand nothing, unfortunately), seems that the lemur was donated from America?
    The donation of a pair in 1961 is just another confirmation that ring-tailed lemurs were rare in 1960s.
     
  18. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    And the birth at Artis in 1973 :

    The 1854 lemur was donated by a person working on a ship so I guess it was simply wild-caught and brought by this person to the Netherlands.
     

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  19. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    The recent rise of popularity of Ring-tailed lemurs might also correlate to something Jana indicated (and I'm not talking about King Julien): their suitability for walk-through lemur exhibits (often surrounded by water), which have become pretty much a standard feature in many zoos, both in Europe and the USA.
     
  20. zoo_enthusiast

    zoo_enthusiast Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't call walk-through lemur exhibits a common feature in US zoos (I agree that they are quite common in Europe)... I've been to over 60 US institutions and only recall a very few walk through exhibits. Only San Diego Zoo Safari Park and a very small (and frequently non-operational) walk through in Philadelphia Zoo come to mind... There may be others, but still not really common.