Busch Gardens Tampa Bay welcomed two endangered baby red-ruffed lemurs on April 21. The babies can be viewed by guests in Jambo Junction, where they reside with their mother and father, Maditra and Bozeny.
The babies are the first lemurs to be born at Jambo Junction, home to the parks' animal ambassadors, since Maditra and Bozeny arrived as babies three years ago. Lemurs are a species of primate, and reach sexual maturity between 2 and 3 years old.
The sex of the babies has yet to be determined, but they are developing well overall, according to trainers. They are getting braver each day, and exploring their habitat under the watchful eye of Mom and Dad. They currently weigh about 300 grams or a little more than half a pound; lemurs average about 80 grams, or .17 of a pound, at birth. They grow to be about 8 to 10 pounds.
All species of lemurs are native to the island of Madagascar. Red-ruffed lemurs are one of nearly about 50 lemur species. Busch Gardens is home to five lemur species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers all lemurs endangered. Lemurs are endangered largely due to habitat destruction. Their forests are destroyed for their wood and to grow agricultural crops.
Lemurs play an important role in the ecology of Madagascar as seed dispersers. The seeds can then grow into new plants, which is important since the forests of Madagascar are being destroyed at a very high rate. However, they cannot disperse enough seeds to match the rate of forest destruction.