TWO Lion-tailed Macaque babies, born to mothers Kelly and Lizzy and to father Mauzer in Fota Wildlife Park in recent months, made their media debut at the weekend.
Nine-year-old Kelly gave birth on September 26th and 17-year-old Lizzy gave birth on October 13th after a gestation period of approximately six months – both babies are male and both mothers were born at Fota.
The lion-tailed macaque ranks among the rarest and most threatened primate species in the world and is listed as endangered by the IUCN red list.
Macaques live in groups of between 10 and 20 individuals with one dominant male taking responsibility for leading the entire troop. The breeding male at Fota is Mauzer, who originally came from Belfast Zoo, and he is the father of the two new babies. Mauzer was nine years old on Wednesday last, January 1st.
Teresa Power, lead ranger, said about the births: ‘The two new babies at Fota are settling in really well and are fussed over and protected by the whole troop; in fact, it is common to see a younger female kidnap a baby for a little while to practise her mothering skills as this is how they learn.
‘Lizzy is one of our main breeding females and already has three daughters in the group, while this is Kelly’s first baby.
‘Neither baby has a name yet and we are calling on the public to help us name them both, just go to our blog to enter your details there on www.fotawildlife.ie/blog.’
She continued: ‘The two new arrivals bring our troop of Lion-tailed macaques up to 18 and, already, the babies are starting to explore their surroundings and are often gently pulled back by the tail if they stray too far from their mothers.
‘The babies can usually be seen through the viewing window of their heated house if the weather is too cold for playing outside in their large purpose-built enclosure, opposite the Sumatran Tigers in the Asian Sanctuary at Fota Wildlife Park.
‘The Lion-tailed Macaque is endemic to the Western Ghats of Southern India. There are less than 2,500 individuals remaining in the wild and about 400 more living in zoos and wildlife parks.
‘The species is hunted for its meat and fur, with only 1% of their original habitat remaining because of timber harvesting and agriculture. The ex-situ population now makes up 14% of the entire group left on the planet.’
• Fota Wildlife Park is asking the public to help name the two new male baby Lion-tailed Macaques and, to be in with a chance of winning one of two conservation annual passes, go to the form on the blog at www.fotawildlife.ie/blog.