Update On Lemur Troop At Zoo Atlanta
The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams at Zoo Atlanta are closely monitoring the Zoo’s lemur troop as a result of the illness of Julius, an 11-year-old male ring-tailed lemur, and the death of Ringo, an 11-yearold male ring-tailed lemur who was euthanized on February 2, 2016. While histopathology results are pending, the Veterinary Team believes toxoplasmosis to be the cause of both animals’ declines. Julius, who began demonstrating symptoms of illness on February 6, is in guarded condition and is receiving treatment and supportive care.
Toxoplasmosis is caused by a protozoal parasite that may be found in the feces of cats and is often fatal in lemurs, which are particularly sensitive to the disease as a result of their evolutionary biology. Ringo exhibited a rapid decline in his health and behavior following the onset of symptoms and did not respond to supportive care and treatment. The troop’s other members, ring-tailed lemur Neal and black-and-whiteruffed lemurs Ian, Luna and Malaky, are being treated with prophylactic medication and are under close observation by the Veterinary Team. The lemurs will remain off-exhibit as the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams take additional preventative measures, including removing and replacing substrate materials in the animals’ outdoor habitat to eliminate materials which may have been contaminated via an outside source such as a feral cat.
“We are saddened by the loss of Ringo and are undertaking every proactive measure available to us to ensure the health of Julius and the other lemurs,” said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Vice President of Animal Divisions. “This disease is especially dangerous for lemurs because of their unusual susceptibility to toxoplasmosis and their resulting high rate of mortality. The Veterinary Team and our team of animal care professionals are presently doing all we can to treat and protect the lemurs.”
Veterinarians administered an initial course of preventative treatment following the passing of Jason, a 12- year-old male ring-tailed lemur, whose death on November 1 was confirmed via histopathology to have been a result of toxoplasmosis. Following that cycle of treatment, no further signs of illness had been observed among the lemurs.
There is no health risk to Zoo Members and guests. Toxoplasmosis is most commonly associated with cat feces, and cats are the only known hosts. Other animals may contract the illness by ingesting contaminated soil, plants, water or meat.
Necropsies, the equivalents of animal autopsies, are performed following all animal deaths at Zoo Atlanta. Preliminary necropsy results for Ringo will be available in the coming weeks.
Rachel Davis, Director of Communications
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404.309.2238 – cell
About Zoo Atlanta
Viewed as one of the finest zoological institutions in the U.S. and a proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoo Atlanta has a mission to inspire value and preservation of wildlife through a unique mix of education and outdoor family experiences. From well-known native wildlife to critically endangered species on the brink of extinction, the Zoo offers memorable close encounters with some 1,300 animals from around the world. The Zoo’s newest destination, Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, featuring more than 60 species in a 111,000 square-foot complex, opened in 2015 and is the world’s first LEED Gold-certified reptile and amphibian exhibit. Zoo collection highlights include Mei Lun and Mei Huan, the only giant panda twins in the U.S.; North America’s largest zoological collection of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Up-close-and-personal animal experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African elephants, giant pandas, lemurs and Aldabra giant tortoises. Zoo Atlanta is open daily with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper talks, interactive wildlife shows, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, visit zooatlanta.org.