Linton Zoo: Birth of rare Mongoose lemur causes ripple of excitement in the zoo world

A rare baby lemur born at Linton Zoo has been formally introduced to the world this week.

Tia, a Mongoose lemur, was born on May 13 which has created a ripple of excitement throughout the zoo world – there are very few in captivity and officially ranked as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. Numbers are rapidly decreasing in the wild.

But little Tia – which means ‘to love’ in Malagasy – is a picture of health, and has just started to venture off around her enclosure.

Zoo director Kim Simmons said: “We very proud to successfully breed this wonderful lemur again. This baby is the first born in the captive population for over four years.

“Both mum Maggie, aged 16, and 21-year-old dad Henry are clearly pleased with the new arrival.

Megan, their five-year-old daughter, is as excited as any sibling would be. She too is helping out with the daily care of her new sister and as well as having a boisterous new play mate. She is gaining lots of essential parental skills ready for when she too becomes a mum.”

All Lemur species are from Madagascar where numbers are in decline.

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A special European breeding programme aimed at saving them from total extinction is managed at Linton Zoo. Careful co-ordination and constant monitoring of the European population with recommendations on various husbandry techniques and diets is beginning to pay off.

“Diet, temperature and many other factors have to be carefully managed to mirror their natural environment as closely as possible as conditions have to be absolutely perfect for this species to breed,” explained Ms Simmons.

“The close co-operation of participating zoos and collaboration with in-situ and ex-situ researchers along with the dedication of zoo keepers are essential for any chance of success.

“You can imagine our delight with the arrival of Tia - what a reward for everyone.”

Lemurs shot to fame in the animated film Madagascar and because of which they are often referred to as ‘the dancing monkeys’. However, Lemurs are Prosimians, a group of mammals that are defined as being primates but not monkeys or apes.

Baby lemurs cling tight to their mums’ tummy for the first couple of weeks, buried deep in the thick fur they are sometimes quite difficult to see.

As the baby builds up strength and confidence it starts to clamber around occasionally leaving mum for a few minutes to try its climbing skills on a nearby branch or swing from the tail of the nearest family member.

“Tia can now be seen clambering around her enclosure getting up to all sorts of mischief, chasing around her big sister, but she always runs back to mum for a cuddle and bit of reassurance,” said Ms Simmons.

“Linton Zoo is well known for its Lemurs and with five different species kept at the zoo there’s rarely a time without a baby or two around to see.”

A great way to meet the Lemurs is to take part in one of the VIP tours of the Rare Lemur Breeding Centre. These can be booked on most days throughout the summer holidays or during the zoo’s special charity fundraising evening on Friday (August 19).

For �10 per person, visitors can take a behind the scenes tour of the lemur centre meeting the different families that live there.

All money raised from these tours goes straight to conservation projects supported by Linton zoo.

• For more information or to book a lemur tour or tickets visit or call 01223 891308.