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Black-and-White Ruffed Lemurs

ABQ BioPark working to help this critically endangered species

The black-and-white ruffed lemur is a critically endangered primate endemic to Madagascar. While the species has experienced a severe population decline in the last few decades, the ABQ BioPark is helping to conserve the species through a Species Survival Plan.

What is an endemic species?

An endemic species is a plant or animal that is native or restricted to a certain country or area. Endemic species are more susceptible to extinction because of their restricted range. Disturbances in the animal's natural habitat can potentially wipe out such a species. The black-and-white ruffed lemur is endemic to the island of Madagascar, which is located off the western coast of Mozambique in Southern Africa.

The zoo welcomed baby Bruno in May 2016. He is the offspring of female Nuit and male Darby. Darby’s brother, Kirby, also lives with the group.

Female lemurs can produce up to six babies in one litter, but most pregnancies result in twins.  Bruno was Nuit’s first pregnancy, so it’s not unusual that she delivered a single baby—in future pregnancies she could have twins or a larger litter.

Female social dominance is the norm in lemur societies. This social rule is evident among the BioPark’s lemur group, where Nuit acts as the boss of the otherwise-male clan. Zookeepers say that Nuit subtly but effectively asserts herself and the males don’t challenge her dominance. Nonetheless, Nuit shares a strong bond with Kirby and Darby.

Lemurs are known for loud calling and most group members participate in any given chorus. The ABQ BioPark’s lemur group is no exception—they partake in boisterous vocalizations in response to outside stimuli such as a squawking macaw in the nearby Birds of America exhibit, the opening and closing of doors, and other loud, unexpected noises. And sometimes, zookeepers say, they appear to call for no apparent reason.

Lemurs are frugivorous, which means they eat a diet consisting primarily of fruit. At the BioPark, the lemurs enjoy a varied diet of fruits and vegetables that includes bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, mixed greens, apples, kiwi, banana, corn, peas and berries—zookeepers say their favorite is the bananas. In addition, the group chomps on two different biscuits—monkey chow and leaf eater chow. Onlookers might also catch the lemurs eating the leaves of the trees in their habitat—this is a trick that Nuit taught the males when she arrived at the BioPark in late 2014.

This arboreal species is diurnal, meaning it stays active during the day and sleeps at night. This offers the public plenty of opportunities to see this tight-knit group interacting, eating and calling in their habitat, which is located across from Koala Creek.

Our actions matter

The wild population of black-and-white ruffed lemurs is declining rapidly, and the species is listed as critically endangered. The principal threat to lemurs is poachers and hunters. Slash and burn agriculture also threatens lemurs because it devastates their natural habitat. What you can do:

  1. Give to the Lemur Conservation Foundation, which has a mission of “preservation and conservation of the primates of Madagascar through captive breeding, scientific research, and education.”
  2. Adopt one of the ABQ BioPark’s lemurs the NM BioPark Society’s BioPark Parent program.