Endangered Lemur Baby Being Cared for in San Diego Zoo’s Nursery

A female ring-tailed lemur, an endangered species, is currently being cared for by animal care staff in the San Diego Zoo’s neonatal assisted care facility.  First-time mom, Tweena, gave birth to the baby on May 20 and immediately exhibited motherly instincts, holding her baby and being attentive with her from the start.  However, on Sunday, May 24, animal care staff noticed the baby appeared weak and became concerned that it may not be receiving proper nutrition.  The baby was moved to the Zoo’s nursery, where she is being cared for round-the-clock.  She is currently being  bottle fed every two hours and appears to be doing well.

Lemurs are highly social animals, and in order to facilitate the family’s introduction process, Tweena and Matthew, the sire of the baby, were also moved to the neonatal care unit so the family unit could hear and smell each other. To provide additional bonding time between mom and daughter, Tweena is allowed to groom and lick her baby through the wire mesh of her enclosure.

“We hope that things will go really well with the baby and as soon as she’s strong enough we will reunite the two, and Tweena will get a chance to raise her own baby,” said Janet Hawes, lead keeper for San Diego Zoo Global.

Lemurs are native to Madagascar, an island off the southeast coast of Africa. There are numerous species of lemurs, with ring-tailed lemurs among the most populous and easily recognized with their long nose, big eyes, wooly fur and long, black-and-white-ringed tail. Ring-tailed lemurs are mostly active during the day; unlike other lemurs, they spend more time on the ground than in trees. They are omnivores, eating primarily fruits, leaves, flowers, herbs, bark and sap.

All lemurs are threatened or endangered primarily due to habitat destruction, but they are also hunted for food and unfortunately frequently kept as pets. San Diego Zoo Global is a managing member of the Madagascar Fauna Group, a conservation organization dedicated to assisting the Malagasy conserve their plant and animal biodiversity.

Guests visiting the Zoo can see the baby lemur in the Children’s Zoo nursery in the Zoo’s Discovery Outpost.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents.  The important conservation and science work of these entities is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.