Melbourne Zoo’s Lemurs leading the way for World Lemur Day

24 October 2019

Ring-tailed Lemurs aren’t renowned for their intelligence like their fellow primates, however the Lemurs at Melbourne Zoo are intent on setting that record straight ahead of World Lemur Day tomorrow (October 25).

For the first time ever at the Zoo, the Lemurs are showing off their capacity to learn and acquire new skills in open daily training sessions in full view of an attentive public.

It’s all occurring in the Zoo’s Lemur Island exhibit, which brings Lemurs and visitors together in the same space. The public are gathering around in droves to see the Lemurs voluntarily stepping onto scales, learning how to hold onto their long tails on cue for keepers to secure accurate weight readings, and learning how to exercise to keep their agile bodies healthy.

Zookeeper Nicole Newell said she had been equally impressed by the smarts shown by the Madagascan native primates and the great interest shown by the public.

 “The daily Lemur training sessions, which also include a keeper talk and public interaction, are creating a really exclusive, enjoyable and intimate experience for visitors,” Ms Newell said.

“The great thing about this experience is that the visitors, Lemurs and keepers are all in the same space together.

"The great thing about this experience is that the visitors, Lemurs and keepers are all in the same space together."

“These open daily training sessions with the Lemurs are serving a dual purpose. Not only does it provide great benefits for the Lemurs, they also provide an opportunity to educate visitors about the purpose of animal training – for the animals to voluntarily participate in their own healthcare programs.”

Ms Newell said the Lemur training at Melbourne Zoo aligned with the celebration of World Lemur Day tomorrow, an important day dedicated to shining a light on the plight of this precious species in the wild.

“World Lemur Day is really important as the Ring-tailed Lemur is classified as endangered, so we want to generate as much awareness about the species as possible.”

Ring-tailed Lemurs are among the world's most threatened sub-species of Lemurs. The main threats to the species include habitat destruction and hunting.

The Lemur training sessions are all part of the zoo’s Keeper Care Hub activities, which provide visitors to Melbourne Zoo with an insight into the level of care from zookeepers as they train and teach important skills to a variety of birds, primates and animals across the zoo.

Melbourne Zoo members and visitors can see the open Lemur training sessions every day at 1:45pm until November 10.