Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Endangered lemur finds new Exmoor friend after cancer claims mate

CUDDLES, an endangered lemur in the care of West Somerset animal centre Tropiquaria, has found a new companion after losing her mate to liver cancer.
Staff at the Washford Cross tourism attraction spent weeks searching around the world for another lemur after Cuddles’ mate died.
Then, they found another black and white ruffed lemur almost on their doorstep – on the other side of Exmoor at Combe Martin Wildlife Park.
Now, Cuddles is being kept company by Fifi, who has moved from North Devon to live at Tropiquaria.
Senior keeper Claire Wright said: “While this species is very social, we were a little bit worried about introducing them to each other.
“In fact, within three days they were the best of friends and were eating from the same bowl.”
Black and white ruffed lemurs originate in Madagascar and the species is now listed as endangered, largely through habitat destruction.
Usually, the overall objective of keeping members of endangered species together would be to breed them and return their offspring to the wild, so it could be considered unusual for two females to be kept together.
However, Tropiquaria managing director Chris Moiser said: “Populations of endangered animals are usually managed on a national or international basis.
“This means that decisions are made on the numbers of animals that it is necessary to keep in captivity, if and when to pair them up, and, ultimately, to reintroduce them to the wild.
“Decisions are also made on which animals have the best genetic pedigrees, and therefore should be used to create the future stocks.
“This may involve animals being moved from one end of Europe to the other.
“At present our ‘girls’ are some way down that list, so they are unlikely to be involved in long-distance romances.
“We are, though, very pleased to have them here as they are very sweet and friendly animals.”
For the winter season, Tropiquaria is open from 11 am to 4 pm at weekends only, although it is available during the week for exclusive party bookings.
Further information about opening hours is on the website http://www.tropiquaria.co.uk/, or can be obtained by calling 01984 640688.
  • Our photograph shows Fifi and Cuddles getting to know each other in their pen at Tropiquaria. Photo submitted.

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