Lemur-love for single Sid
Friday 4 May 2012
Zookeeper steps in as surrogate mate for lemur...
A lemur is receiving special attention from his devoted keeper at ZSL London Zoo while he awaits the arrival of a new lady friend.
16-year-old Sid the red-ruffed lemur is treated to daily grooming and pampering sessions from zookeeper Jim Mackie, whilst Zoo bosses search for a new mate after Sid’s long-term companion Ella passed away suddenly late last year.
Replicating a lemur’s natural behaviour, Jim grooms Sid from head-to-toe – parting his hair and massaging his back. Sid is also treated to five meals a day, giving keepers the chance to hide food around the enclosure and encourage his natural foraging instincts. Jim said: “We go to lots of effort with Sid to make sure he’s getting as much attention from us as he would get from another lemur. He perches himself on his favourite branch so that we can give him a good scratch – and he loves to be tickled under his arms.
“The grooming and pampering is not only great for maintaining Sid’s natural social behaviours whilst we’re searching for a new mate for him, but it also helps keep him healthy by releasing endorphins. He’s a really loveable character and going to see him for a cuddle is one of the highlights of my day!”
Classed as critically endangered by IUCN and victims of habitat loss and hunting in their native Madagascar, red-ruffed lemurs are part of a European Breeding Programme (EEP) to help boost their numbers which are still declining in the wild.
Visitors can see Sid in his home next door to Animal Adventure at ZSL London Zoo, where keepers will be carrying out his daily enrichment and grooming.