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Ring-Tailed Lemurs

Status: Endangered 

For more info: Lemur catta (Ring-tailed Lemur) (

Image by Ádám Berkecz

With its unique biodiversity, many animal species in Madagascar are not found anywhere else in the world. One such group of animals is commonly known as the lemur. The word lemur is derived from the Latin word “lemures” which means ghost or spirit. Lemurs are part of the primate order and the family of Lemuridae. Due to their diversity in species, most lemurs have become a key species in conservation. The species has drawn attention to the fact that Madagascar has unique species that cannot be replaced. The fact that new lemur and other animal species are still being discovered as the ecosystems are studied in more detail, allows Madagascar to be at the forefront of conservation.

Lemurs are a key species in preserving the natural landscape of Madagascar by dispersing seeds through their droppings and consuming vegetation such as fruits and leaves as part of their diet resulting in a healthy forest. According to the IUCN, there are 103 species of lemurs in existence today. Of those almost 31% are critically endangered, and 98% of lemurs are threatened (IUCN 2020). The disappearance of any of the lemur species will be catastrophic for Madagascar’s ecosystem.  This paper examines the current threats to lemurs, what is being done to conserve all species of lemurs, what conservation strategy is effective and where future conservation efforts need to focus.

Ring-tailed lemurs are just one fo the many lemur species but unfortunately, they are the most likely to become part of the pet-trade both in Madagascar and everywhere else in the world, including Florida, our home base.  These lemurs live in large groups of up to 30 individuals, so it is cruel to have them alone as a pet. Many breeders will not tell unsuspected buyers that the animal may well start attack you once they sexually mature.This is why they end up in sanctuaries like ours where we can give them more species appropriate care. 

Image by David Bruyndonckx
Image by Victoria Bragg

These lemurs are a female dominant society. They are diurnal, being active only in daylight hours. They are the most vocal of all the lemurs. They are more terrestrial than other lemurs and spend about 33% of their time on the ground foraging. Their natural enemy in Madagascar is the Fossa. They mark their territories with scent glands located on their wrists which they use during fights by rubbing the scent all over their tails and flicking it at their opponent, this is called spur marking or a stink fighting. 

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