Zoo celebrates arrival of rare red-bellied lemur

Credit: Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo is celebrating the birth of a rare red-bellied lemur.The fluffy youngster, the first to be born there, arrived around six weeks ago to parents Aina and Frej.But keepers say the precious primate, whose sex is currently unknown, was so small and hidden in among mum’s thick fur that only now is it starting to become more visible.

Credit: Chester Zoo

It was estimated to weigh just 70 grams at birth - around the same weight as a banana. 

Claire Parry, Assistant Team Manager of Primates, said : “The birth of any lemur is real cause for celebration as these primates are vulnerable to extinction in the wild and every new arrival is a vital addition to the endangered species breeding programme. "

Credit: Chester Zoo

The birth is said to be an important boost to the European breeding programme for the species with the red-bellied lemur listed as vulnerable to extinction in its native Madagascar – the only place where lemurs are found in the wild.Experts say destruction of their forest homes, caused by people for agriculture and timber, as well as hunting for their meat has resulted in huge declines for all of the island’s 100 different species of lemur.