These primates have an athletic body and limbs ideal for climbing and bounding from one tree to another. Their legs and strong hands give them the power to climb and hang. They have a non-prehensile tail, covered in characteristic black and white rings, that helps them balance while in the trees.
Diet: As diurnal frugivores, ring-tailed lemurs spend most of their time during the day foraging for fruit. However, they can also be found eating leaves, flowers, tree bark, and even sap.
In the Wild: Lemurs live in groups called troops. The dominant or alpha female is in charge of the entire troop. Female lemurs remain in their family troop throughout their lives, while male lemurs often move between troops. During mating season, males will compete for females through “stink fights” in which they rub scent from their wrists onto their tail. They then wave their stinky tail towards their competitor.
Conservation issues/actions: For years, lemur populations have been affected drastically by hunting, as well as by habitat loss caused by deforestation, slash and burn farming, and logging. In a 2016 research study it was found that the ring-tailed lemurs’ population declined by 95% since the year 2000. Moreover, climate change caused by rampant carbon dioxide levels is causing the sea level to rise, drastically affecting the coastline of Madagascar. Climate change has also altered the rainfall patterns in some areas of the country, causing a prolonged drought in the ring-tailed lemur habitat of southern Madagascar. Shopping sustainably, remembering to reuse, reduce, recycle, and refuse, and taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint will play a role in preserving the species diversity of Madagascar, helping ring-tailed lemurs.
At the Zoo:
Ring-tailed lemurs can live in a wider range of habitats than any other lemur species. They are adapted to live in the coldest as well as the hottest and driest habitats in Madagascar, making them feel at home in Tucson. Here at the Reid Park Zoo, you may see our lemurs leaning back, relaxing, and soaking up some sunlight early in the morning, or you may see them foraging for enrichment items and fruit across their habitat.