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Rare twin red-ruffed lemurs born at Singapore zoo during coronavirus outbreak

07:18 | 18/07/2020

Twin red ruffed lemur babies were born at the Singapore Zoo on Feb 22, at a time when Covid-19 began its spread across the globe.

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rare twin red ruffed lemurs born at singapore zoo during coronavirus outbreak
Reproduction for red ruffed lemurs is notoriously difficult, says Wildlife Reserves Singapore, as they only breed once a year. Females are also only fertile on one out of the few days they are sexually receptive. Photo: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

The Singapore Zoo recently welcomed the birth of twin red ruffed lemurs, a critically endangered species whose reproduction is known to be "notoriously difficult", the Wildlife Reserves Singapore said on Thursday (Jul 16).

This is the first time the red ruffled lemur has been born here since the birth of the twins' father Bosco more than a decade ago.

The twins were born on Feb 22 "while the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world", said WRS.

The baby lemurs are now almost five months old and have begun to welcome visitors, following the zoo's reopening on Jul 6.

rare twin red ruffed lemurs born at singapore zoo during coronavirus outbreak
The twin red ruffed lemurs are now about five months old and have begun to welcome visitors, following the zoo's reopening on Jul 6. Photo: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

The last time the zoo welcomed the birth of the critically endangered red ruffed lemur was 11 years ago when the twins' father, Bosco, was born.

Their mother, eight-year-old Minnie, came to Singapore in 2016 from a zoo in Japan.

The rust-coloured primates only breed once a year, making reproduction notoriously difficult, Wildlife Reserves Singapore said in a statement on Thursday.

"On top of this, females are only fertile for one out of the few days they are sexually receptive, making this twin birth particularly special," it said.

The twins started to greet visitors only this month as the zoo was closed due to a coronavirus lockdown.

Endangered red ruffed lemur twins now welcoming Singapore Zoo visitors. Video: SCMP

rare twin red ruffed lemurs born at singapore zoo during coronavirus outbreak
Red ruffed lemurs are native to the north-eastern part of Madagascar. Photo: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Red ruffed lemurs are native to the north-eastern part of Madagascar and the biggest threat they face is habitat loss due to illegal logging and hunting. They live together as a family so are often hunted in groups. There are between 29,000 and 52,000 red ruffed lemurs left in the wild. Of the 107 surviving lemur species on Madagascar, some 103 are threatened, including 33 that are critically endangered -- the last stop before "extinct in the wild".

(Source: Straits Times, Jakarta Post)

rare twin red ruffed lemurs born at singapore zoo during coronavirus outbreak
Red-ruffed lemur in tree in tropical forest, Madagascar. Photo: naturepl
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