Black and White Ruffed Lemur

VARECIA VARIEGATA

The Brandywine Zoo has three black and white ruffed lemurs: Rees, Amor Jr. (“AJ”), and Beans. Amor Jr. and Rees are fraternal twin brothers (DOB 5/17/2013), born at Duke Lemur Center, and Beans (DOB 5/5/2008), unrelated to the boys, was born at the Tulsa Zoo. They came to us from the Duke Lemur Center in October 2020. They are a non-breeding group and have been living together since December 2019 as a family unit.

HABITAT
Lowland to mid-altitude rain forests

GEOGRAPHIC REGION & RANGE
Only found in Madagascar. This species inhabits the lowland to mid-altitude rain forests in eastern Madagascar.

DIET
Frugivorous- meaning they eat mainly fruit. Also seeds, nectar, and leaves.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION
Black and white fur- their hands, feet, tails, faces and heads are typically black. They have bright yellow to yellow-brown eyes.

SIZE
20-22 inches (55 cm) in length

WEIGHT
Between 6-10 lbs (2.7-4.5 kg)

LIEFESPAN
Wild: 19 years
Under Human Care: Longer in human care

THREATS
They are threatened by deforestation caused by agriculture, mainly slash-and-burn farming, and from hunting for bushmeat, and the pet trade. Madagascar is an extremely impoverished country with many humanitarian issues which make wildlife conservation a challenge unless these issues are also addressed.

STATUS
Critically Endangered

REPRODUCTION
Usually deliver twins or triplets, but can have as many as six infants in one litter! Newborns are completely helpless and can’t cling to mom right away, so she will “park” them a nest. They are the only primate that will do this! Gestation lasts about 90-120 days (3-4 months).

BEHAVIOR
Primarily arboreal, spending time in the treetops. They are quadrupedal, often walking, running and leaping from branch to branch using all four limbs. They can hang bipedally: they will hold themselves upside down using just their feet holding onto a tree branch!

SOCIAL STRUCTURE
• They live in groups of 2-16 individuals, they will also break up into sub-groups during the day.
Matriarchal – adult females are dominant over males.
• While mothers are the sole caregivers for the first 6 weeks, after that, some moms will “pool” their infants in communal nests to share parenting duties. Fathers will help after this point, too! This is very unusual for primates!

COMMUNICATION
• They communicate using scent glands to leave smells behind for others to find.
• Other than howler monkeys, they are the loudest primate in the world! Their calls can be heard up to a 1/2 mile away.

FUN FACTS

They are the world’s largest pollinators! They eat nectar and the flower’s pollen sticks to their fur, getting transported to the next tree. Palm trees and other hardwoods in Madagascar depend entirely on lemur pollinators!

They are named for the “ruff” of fur that runs around their faces and chins.

The first release of captive-born lemurs into the wild involved black and white ruffed lemurs. They were released into Betampona Natural Reserve in Madagascar.

With the exception of the howler monkey, black and white ruffed lemurs have the loudest call of all primates.

What are AZA Zoos doing for Black and White Ruffed Lemurs?

Their zoo population is managed through conservation breeding programs called Species Survival Plan programs, which ensures genetic diversity and species health. There are 170 B&W ruffed lemurs at 46 AZA-accredited facilities. AZA zoos fund and participate in field research focusing on the ecology of lemurs in Madagascar, the health of wild populations, genetics, training local residents in lemur protection strategies, and partnering with conservation organizations.

Black and White Ruffed Lemur at the Brandywine Zoo. Photo by Mark Pyle

More images of our Black & White Ruffed Lemurs