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More Ruffed Lemurs Head Back Home

  • Thursday, April 1, 1999

Just a year after the first five ruffed lemurs raised in captivity made news when they were reintroduced into their native Madagascar, four others made the same trip from the United States to the Betampona Natural Reserve.

After a few weeks of adapting to their new surroundings in outdoor cages, the latest arrivals--Trisha, Barney, Dawn and Jupiter--were released into the wild in December. They are thriving, researchers say, although they are only slowly abandoning the commercial chow left for them in favor of fruit they forage for themselves. Of the original five lemurs reintroduced, one was killed by a fossa (a panther-like animal), one died in a fall and one disappeared. A male and female (Zuben'Ubi and Praesepe) remain, and have fully adapted to their new environment.

Dawn, Jupiter, Tricia and Barney spent a month in "boot camp" (an outdoor enclosure that simulates a natural environment) at the Duke University Primate Center in North Carolina before traveling to Africa. Ruffed lemurs are small (7 to 10 pounds), highly endangered primates found only on Madagascar.

"We are learning an enormous amount about the restocking process," says Andrea Katz, the Primate Center's conservation coordinator and technical adviser to the Madagascar Fauna Group. "But it may take several more breeding/birth sessions to evaluate the success of reproduction" among the natives and the newcomers in Betampona.

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