The Curraghs Wildlife Park has welcomed a new rare species to its newly-built lemur enclosure, following a devastating fire earlier this year.
The critically endangered Red ruffed lemur is native to Madagascar, only found in one small region in the north east. Although part of the region where they exist is a national protected forest, illegal logging continues to be a huge threat to the species.
The efforts of an international co-ordinated breeding programme means 600 Red ruffed lemur are protected in zoos across the globe and ensures the best genetic possibilities for this captive population, should it become extinct in the wild. The Curraghs Wildlife Park has brought two of the endangered lemurs across from Twycross Zoo and Colchester Zoo in the UK.
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has supported the transport of the animals to the island as part of conservation breeding programmes for endangered species.
The new lemur exhibit at the Curraghs Wildlife Park was due to be fully open this summer, but sadly the fire, causing the death of two young Alaotran gentle lemurs, has held things back.
Kathleen Graham, Curraghs Wildlife Park General Manager, explained: ‘We have opted for a soft opening of the new area this summer. Until the tragic fire we had been on track for moving all the other lemur species in just after Easter, giving them time to settle in before the walk-in was opened to the public in time for the school holidays.
‘Although we aren’t fully open as planned, we have managed to get the two female Red ruffed lemurs homed with our pair of Black-and-white ruffed lemurs. We now just have the Ring-tailed lemurs to move over and mix with the Red-fronted lemur. The final part will be the re-build of the Gentle lemur exhibit and the walk-in should be open when we have volunteers to man it towards the end of this year.
‘We are really pleased that this major improvement is ready for all five of our lemur species to move into. With all the set-backs and disappointments we feel it has been worth it to provide a top quality home for these endangered animals.
‘We continue to be grateful to the Steam Packet Company for its ongoing support in moving these important zoo animals in protective captive breeding programmes.’
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘It is incredibly sad that so many of these species are endangered but it is great to see such a co-ordinated effort in the hope that one day they won’t have to be protected. We are pleased to continue our support of these programmes and look forward to hearing how the lemurs get on in their new home.’
Photograph: One of the Red ruffed lemurs in its new home at Curraghs Wildlife Park