Ring-Tailed Lemurs Make Moves to Support Species Survival Plan

September 28, 2023

Ring-tailed lemur half-brothers, Elo and Maky, are preparing for a big adventure! They’ll soon join a bachelor group of nine ring-tailed lemurs at Brevard Zoo – an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in Melbourne, Florida.
Ring-tailed lemur, Maky, playing in their island area of Water's Edge: Africa at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Ring-tailed lemurs are endangered, and wild populations are decreasing, according to the International Union for the Conservancy of Nature (IUCN) Red List. This move is in support of the Ring-Tailed Lemur Species Survival Plan (SSP), which manages assurance populations in human care to make breeding recommendations and achieve the highest possible genetic diversity among animals cared for by AZA-accredited organizations that support SSPs, like CMZoo. Rogue and Allagash, the two moms on Lemur Island, have both been recommended to breed again with Hercules.

“This is bittersweet, because of course we will miss Maky and Elo, but it’s an exciting opportunity to bring more of this endangered species into the world,” said Erin Henninger, animal keeper in Water’s Edge: Africa. “That’s why we exist as an organization – to save species and to inspire people to protect wildlife and wild places. Ring-tailed lemur babies are really good at inspiring people. It’s also an opportunity for their sister, Anja, who will hopefully be a mom someday, to observe her mom and aunt giving birth and raising young. She will likely help raise her future little brothers and sisters.”

In preparation for this move, the lemurs’ care team prioritized crate training. The goal is to make the lemurs comfortable entering, exiting and spending time in their travel crates, since they’ll be wide awake for their flight. The boys have mastered crate training, and even know how to close the crate door behind them.
Ring-tailed lemurs playing in their island area of Water's Edge: Africa at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
They have also learned a number of foundational voluntary behaviors, like shifting (moving to a location when asked), targeting (moving to a specific location and touching a target stick, so keepers can get a closer look at them), and injection training.

“We’ll work with their future keepers to relay their training knowledge, individual preferences – like favorite training treats – and behavior histories, so we can all best support them as they settle in,” said Henninger. “Both boys are really smart and eager to train, and they have good social skills, so we’re looking forward to seeing them embrace this next chapter in their development as young adults.”

Guests who want to visit Maky and Elo before their departure should plan a trip to the Zoo before mid-October. Stay tuned for more updates on Allagash, Anja, Rogue and Hercules by following CMZoo’s social channels!

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