Would you like to know more about the lemur colony at our Myakka City reserve?
According to Dr. Ian Tattersall, LCF scientist and curator in the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, “The last few hundred years have witnessed an extraordinary ravaging of Madagascar’s forests, and the reduction of many lemur populations to critically low levels.” The Lemur Conservation Foundation was formed to address this very problem.
Since its inception, LCF has been particularly focused on the conservation of the brown lemur, Eulemur fulvus sp. While brown lemurs were once prolific in North American zoos, the population has decreased dramatically over the last decade. Many traditional institutions decided not to hold these species due to lack of space, management problems and, according to some, lack of visitor appeal. However, Dr. Tattersall and his colleagues believe that, among all the lemurs, it will be the brown lemurs that are most likely to survive in 200 years’ time — if given the chance. They are proven reliable breeders and are extremely adaptable to diverse habitats. Their chances of long-term survival, however, are greatly reduced if the species disappears in captivity.
As the lemur reserve has developed and the colony has expanded, the conservation effort of brown lemurs has grown more complicated. Recent taxonomic changes reflect the results of new research determining that many populations previously considered subspecies are in fact species in their own right. In addition to this, many species within the genus Eulemur experienced the same population drop in captivity as the Eulemur fulvus. LCF is working to protect as many of these “orphan species” as possible while maintaining the highest standards in animal welfare and research quality.
LCF is not alone in their efforts. The newly created Eulemur Species Survival Plan (Eulemur SSP) under the management of the AZA’s Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group addresses many of the issues related to captive management of Eulemur species. LCF, the Eulemur SSP, and other institutions invested in the conservation of lemurs are cooperating to increase the population sizes of several Eulemur species currently in captivity. This includes increasing the number of institutions holding these types of lemurs, increasing the number of breeding pairs, and potentially importing additional breeding lemurs from European and Malagasy zoos.
It is hoped that at least one or two of the Eulemur species populations currently held in captivity will be able to recover from the demographic decline experienced over the past decade resulting from breeding moratorium and space constraints. For the Reserve, this means acquiring a couple of species that were not part of the original collection plan, Eulemur collaris and Eulemur coronatus. Dwindling numbers and aging individuals are the biggest challenges to breeding collared lemurs and crown lemurs.
The Myakka City Lemur Reserves is now home to 8 species of lemur. Without drastic intervention, these species will go extinct in captivity, further increasing the risk of total extinction – in captivity and in the wild. The captive populations of Lemur catta and Varecia rubra are large and widespread; we hope that our research and breeding efforts of these animals will improve their husbandry in captivity and provide more information for better conservation practices in Madagascar. READ MORE about each species on our web site