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Four sunbathing prosimians have arrived at Paignton Zoo.

Ring-tailed lemurs are probably the world’s most famous lemurs, thanks largely to the film Madagascar and their long, furry, black-and-white tails. They sunbathe by sitting in the sunshine with their hands on their knees while others watch out for danger.

The quartet was born at Cricket St Thomas Wildlife Park, but came to Devon from the West Midland Safari Park, where they were also in a public walk-through lemur exhibit. They have the same father but two different mothers. Three year old Terry is full brother to Zanazfu, who is two. Darcy and Dash – both born in 2010 – are full brothers as well as half-brothers to Terry and Zanazfu.

Neil Bemment, Director of Operations & Curator of Mammals at Paignton Zoo, said: “It is more than 20 years since we last kept ring-taileds at Paignton Zoo so it is great to see them back. This is a bachelor group made up of related males and it is hoped that in absence of females they will live together in harmony whilst taking in the good life of the English Riviera!”

The prosimians are a primitive group of primates separate from the monkeys and apes which includes the lemurs, lorises and bush-babies.

Ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) are classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) red list. They spend a lot of time on the ground, which is unusual for lemurs. The species is under threat because the sparse, dry forests in which they live are vanishing and because they are hunted. Ring-tailed lemurs have powerful scent glands and use smell as a means of communication.

Lemurs come from Madagascar and live in troops generally led by a dominant female. They can move nimbly through the trees, though they do not have gripping tails. These herbivores can live for up to 18 years in the wild and may weigh up to 7.5 pounds (3.4 kilos).

Paignton Zoo’s Lemur Wood is now home to three species of lemur - red fronted, red ruffed and ring-tailed.
 

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