Leaping lemurs — there sure is a lot going on with these playful primates the Indianapolis Zoo. If you’ve visited recently, perhaps you’ve noticed some changes happening in the ring-tailed lemur exhibit as well as the exhibit shared by the red ruffed and blue-eyed black lemurs.
The exhibit that housed the ring-tailed lemurs closed permanently on Sept. 24, 2012. However, lemur fans don’t need to fret as the keepers are in the planning stages to move these adorable little primates to a new home elsewhere at the Zoo. Their former exhibit space, near Café on the Commons at the heart of the Zoo, will soon become a center of activity as construction for the new International Orangutan Center gets under way.
The blue-eyed black and red-ruffed lemurs will also be temporarily off exhibit while improvements are made to the landscaping and furnishings in that area. While the outdoor portion of their space receives a facelift, their indoor quarters will also receive an upgrade.
The Zoo has several species of lemurs, but not all of them are on exhibit to the public. Perhaps the most exciting lemur development has gone on behind the scenes with that crowned lemurs.
A small family of crowned lemurs has been living off exhibit here at the Zoo for the last few years. That small family got a little bigger when a male lemur baby named Nuru was welcomed to the world on July 30. He is the offspring of mother Tucker and father Sokkwi. Nuru is the fourth crowned lemur born at the Zoo. Other members of this lemur family who live at the Zoo include a male named Akil born in 2011 and a female named Kesi born in 2010.
Baby lemurs cling to their mothers' belly for several weeks after they're born before eventually climbing around to ride on their backs.
“He just started to venture off of mom and explore,” Forest Keeper Jill Burbank said of Nuru. “We call it the ‘popcorn stage’ because he doesn't have enough coordination to walk, so he hops around. He doesn't go too far and if he does, he ‘eeps’ and mom comes running. She is an excellent mother.”
At 2 months old, Nuru is also starting to play with his brother and sister, and although keepers haven’t seen him eating solid foods yet, he has been mouthing at some of the sticks and twigs — called “browse” — that keepers give the lemurs for enrichment. Zoo babies are presented by Community Health Network.
Although crowned lemurs are not an exhibit species at the Zoo, there is an active breeding program here that is an important part of the Species Survival Plan for this species. The Indianapolis Zoo is the only facility to have experienced success breeding crowned lemurs within the past few years.
While the lemurs may be out of the public eye temporarily, these primates will continue to have a home at the Zoo in the future.