Monday, 28 January 2013

Lemurs 4: Red-Bellied and Mongoose Lemurs

Red-Bellied Lemur
Not as familiar to the general public as many of their relatives, scattered through the forests of Madagascar are a multiplicity of forms of what might perhaps be determined the typical lemurs, Eulemur. As with the rest of Madagascar’s wildlife, increased study in recent years has greatly increased the number of named species, which currently stands at around twelve, possibly more if some subspecies are raised to specific rank.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Special notice: new lion cubs at Bristol

Readers may recall that our male Asiatic Lion Kamal died last year. However, before he died he bacame a father for the second time at Bristol, and now the cubs are older the embargo on the press release has been lifted. From the Bristol Zoo website:

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Lemurs 3: Ring-Tailed Lemur

Ring-Tail lemur plus baby, Bristol Zoo 2009
Probably the most well known lemur in the world, and one to be seen in practically all major and many minor zoos, the Ring-Tailed Lemur is in many respects rather unusual compared to its relatives. For one thing, although it can climb and leap from tree to tree with ease, it spends much of its time on the ground, a lifestyle otherwise known only among the extinct baboon lemurs, Archaeolemur. In diet it is unspecialised, feeding on fruits, seed pods, terrestrial plants and flowers, fungi, and a variety of insects and small vertebrates, although its favourit food in most of its range is the tamarind tree. This is probably why it does well in captivity – the range of foods it is adapted to eat means that feeding them on food obtained from cultivated crops and artificial diets will keep them in good condition, even before more scientific formulations were developed.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Lemurs 2: The Mouse Lemurs

Grey Mouse Lemur
Perhaps least changed from the stock ancestral to all other lemurs, the mouse lemurs or Cheirogaleids are a diverse group of small to extremely small, nocturnal primates. They include the smallest of all lemurs, the Pygmy Mouse Lemur Microcebus myoxinus, and here at Bristol we have a succeful family group of the almost equally minute Grey Mouse Lemur, Microcebus murinus.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Lemurs at Bristol, Part 1: What is a lemur anyway?

Ring-Tailed Lemur
One of the most important groups of primates to be seen at Bristol or any other zoo is the lemurs of Madagascar. Confined only to that island (with human introduction of one species to the Comores) they represent a unique radiation of primates in isolation from other primate species, a process which has been going on for many millions of years, possible even before the extinction of the dinosaurs. After thriving on the islands for all that time, around 2000 years ago they encountered disaster in the form of human colonists (not from nearby Africa, but from clear across the Indian ocean in Indonesia). Since that time, many species have become extinct, and the rest are all highly threatened.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Review of the year part 2: In-situ projects

As well as the various education and captive breeding programs run from Bristol, the zoo is also involved in several in-country projects all over the world, usually as part of a consortium with other zoos and conservation organisations. Here are some of the projects we are involved in, and links to where you can find out more.

orphaned chimps at AAA
The bushmeat trade in Africa is one of the major threats to Africa’s wildlife. Contrary to what is commonly believed, this is not a subsistence-level practise, rather in many cases a supply of expensive wild meat to the cities for high-end purchasers. As a result of the hunting of primates especially, a large number of orphans result. These tend to be kept for a while and then eaten later, but with improved law enforcement many are now confiscated and go to various rescue centres. Since 1997 Bristol has been working with the charity Ape Action Africa, providing veterinary support, education training, and publicity for support and care, with possible eventual rehabilitation, at the Mefou National Park. There are already a small number of regular visitors, and the potential for increasing eco-tourism is certainly there.