SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is keeping a watchful eye on a newborn blue-eyed black lemur, one of the world’s most endangered primates.
Officials said this is the zoo’s second successful birth of a lemur of its kind. This is also the second infant from lemur pair Hendricks and Hemsworth, who arrived at Jacksonville Zoo in 2017.
“We have many reasons to celebrate this new infant. He or she will further enrich the social environment and experience of the zoo’s amazing mixed-species lemur group and strengthen the sustainability of the blue-eyed black lemur population,” said Assistant Curator of Mammals Tracy Fenn. “The Madagascar team is elated to see this infant thriving in the care of the mother.”
Zookeepers don’t yet know the gender of the new lemur. They’re said to be giving the family space as this is a critical time for development.
“Every birth of this species is critical to their long-term sustainability,” a statement from Jacksonville Zoo read. “The wild population’s continued decline is based on a series of issues, including habitat loss.”
The blue-eyed black lemurs are just one of a few primates who have blue eyes and they are only found in Madagascar.
Infants are brown in color and blend in with the reddish-brown color of their mothers. If the infants are males, they develop darker coloring over time.
“We’re fortunate to work in an environment that places great emphasis on education and conservation of wildlife and their habitats,” said Dr. Jeff Ettling, president and CEO of Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
It is estimated that there will be an 88% reduction in the population of blue-eyed black lemurs by 2080 due to climate change alone.
“We help our guests understand the threats these animals face and the role and potential benefits the species provide to the ecosystems they inhabit,” Ettling continued. “We hope this will inspire action.”