Tuesday, May 31
Many of you may remember that earlier this year, Julius, one of our ringtailed lemurs, was ill. Fortunately, with a lot of supportive treatment from our vet staff and keepers, Julius pulled through and is currently doing great. In order to get our whole group back together, we had to first wait until the yard was ready for lemurs. There was a lot of prep work done by our Horticulture Team. They dug out part of the mulch, torched that top layer, and added new fresh mulch back along with lime, all in efforts to minimize the risk of future illness among the lemurs.
After that was complete, we now had to allow Julius to build back his muscles. The black-and-white-ruffed lemurs and the ringtails were let out into the habitat on different days. Letting Julius and Neal out together allowed them to get some well-deserved outside time and allowed Julius to build back his leg muscles. When the ruffed lemurs were outside, he was given more indoor areas to have more space to move.
All of the keepers started “howdy-ing” (a term we use when we have mesh between animals, where they can see each other and potentially touch, but they are not occupying the same space) the ringtails and the ruffed lemurs. We started this indoors because we have more control over the situation. If they were to be put all together out in the habitat and there was a lot of chasing, the only thing we would be able to do is open doors to the indoor area and hope they came inside. The howdies seemed to go well. Ian, our male black-and-white-ruffed lemur, would chatter and swat and jump at the mesh when the ringtails would get near at first. This seemed to calm down after several days. The female ruffed lemurs would look, but not be vocal or they would just explore the space they were in. After a few days we were given the okay to let them all together. Ian started to chase Neal one day, then Julius the next. Because we were still concerned for Julius getting weak, tired or exhausted from running, we ended these sessions shortly after and took a step back and continued with the howdies.
Finally, we got the go-ahead to put all lemurs into the habitat. Julius had more time to gain strength since each group was getting habitat access on alternating nights. The habitat was set up, and on May 4, all animals went outside together. There was no interaction or aggression; they were doing really well! Through the next several days we saw the same occurrences– no interaction and no aggression. Since then, the group has been doing great, with the occasional chase or stink fight, but if you were with your family all the time wouldn’t you argue too? Overall, the group seems to be behaving as though they have always been the cohesive group they had been prior. This is great news, as it can be difficult to get lemur groups and even individuals back together. Even during a routine veterinary procedure, you want to get your individual back with their group as soon as you can or there is the potential to see some type of aggression.
We have been staging practice Wild Encounters with the lemurs to see who will come up for the feedings and how they all interact with each other. So far so good! The ringtails may dominate this one!
Hopefully you will come see the lemurs up-close-and-personal and sign up for a Lemur Wild Encounter when we start them up again in June!
Keeper II, Primates