Lemur project gets praise

PUBLISHED: 16:15 04 January 2007 | UPDATED: 10:05 31 May 2010

Some of the rare lemurs at Linton Zoo

Some of the rare lemurs at Linton Zoo

Conservation work to save rare lemurs by staff at Linton Zoo has led to the gardens being presented with an industry award. At the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) awards in Dublin, the zoo won a commendation in the Best New Zoo

Conservation work to save rare lemurs by staff at Linton Zoo has led to the gardens being presented with an industry award.

At the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) awards in Dublin, the zoo won a commendation in the Best New Zoo Enclosure category.

Zookeeper Kim Simmons said she was delighted to receive the award and to have had all of the hard work she and her colleagues had put in rewarded.

She said: "The lemur enclosure has been a four-year project that has cost in the region of £65,000.

"It's been a lot of hard work, and we've had to take it stage by stage, but it's very rewarding to receive this award in recognition of that."

The accolade was presented for a mini-Madagascar enclosure housing a group of rare lemurs at the zoo, which allows them to behave in a similar way to how they would in the wild.

Mrs Simmons said: "This semi-wild enclosure encourages our lemurs to engage in natural behaviour on a daily basis by climbing and swinging through trees, scent-marking their territory in their own individual hideouts, bumping into other species of lemurs and also encountering local wildlife.

"Chasing wild birds, investigating their nests or even leaping around after grasshoppers and other invertebrates have now become favourite pastimes."

The BIAZA awards have been held annually for more than a decade and recognise outstanding contributions in fields including wildlife conservation, advances in animal welfare and husbandry, sustained breeding programmes and enclosure design.

Dr Miranda Stevenson, director of the BIAZA, said: "The rare lemur breeding centre at Linton is an exciting project with four separate lemur groups sharing a large outside enclosure, and with links to in-situ work.

"Conservation within zoos and aquariums is no longer a matter of choice and these awards recognise and celebrate the vital contributions that our members make to conservation and education each year."

A recent attraction at Linton Zoo is the Mini-zookeeper experience, which allows visitors to gain a better understanding of what the job involves and get closer to the animals than would otherwise be possible.

The money generated from the zookeeper experience is being used to fund a Madagascan conservation project, aiming to protect endangered lemurs in their sole natural habitat.

For more information call the zoo on 01223 891308.

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