We currently have five species of lemur at the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary, and are proud to demonstrate our dedication to the preservation of animal species and the education of our visitors in two main ways: by sending funds to support a charity in Madagascar itself (the MFG) for conservation work there and by being involved here, under strict global protocols, with breeding programmes.
Lemurs are only found in Madagascar, where an astonishing variety can be found, though, sadly, all species are in decline.
Did you know...?
Females are dominant in nearly all species of lemur.
No one knows quite how many species of lemur there are. There are lots of disagreements amongst scientists! Lemurs are not monkeys, although they do share a common ancestor. Lemurs are classed as prosimians. If you love lemurs, why not enjoy their company up close by pre-booking one of our amazing Lemur Experiences?Meet our Lemurs
Black and White Ruffed Lemurs
The black-and-white ruffed lemurs are, along with the Red-ruffed and Mongoose Lemurs, the most endangered animals in our sanctuary. In the wild, small populations can be found in rainforest regions in several areas of Madagascar. They can be very noisy animals - if they make an alarm call you can hear it right across the sanctuary. They also like to tell other animals off!
Lalaina was born here in 2009. She most definitely rules the roost, keeping her playfellows in order and making sure she gets first choice at dinner time! One of her favourite activities is looking for a way out of her enclosure.
Thirteen-year-old Earl joined our family from Paradise Wildlife Park in summer 2018. Earl loves attention through the fence from his human carers and is the more dominant of our two males.
Darnelle, now eleven, also came to us in summer 2018 from Paradise Wildlife Park. Darnelle is the lower ranking of our two males and is definitely the more laid-back of the two boys, keeping his distance and deferring to the boss – Lalaina!
Ring-tailed lemurs come from Southern Madagascar. They spend some of their time in trees, although they do spend more time on the ground than any other lemur. Ring-tailed lemurs live in large family groups.
Mangoky is the grand-daughter of Michelle and niece of Yolande. Rejected at birth by her mother, Mangoky was hand-reared by the dedicated staff of the primate section, and as a result, has never come to grasp lemur rules of socialisation. Mangoky therefore spends her time apart from the main family group as sole companion to male Suarez and these two are, happily, a match made in heaven!
Michelle arrived at the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary in 2002 from Chester Zoo when she was about a year old and is the group’s dominant female. This summer, Michelle has asserted her authority with lemurs and humans alike!
Tsingy was born at the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary in 2004 and was raised by his mother. He is named after the spiky rock formation which occurs within the ring-tailed lemurs’ range and the word Tsingy means "to tiptoe". He is brother to Zebedee and is the lowest ranking of the group.
Yolande was born at the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary in 2003 and raised by her mother Michelle and can be distinguished by her black eye patches that are pointed towards her forehead.
Zebedee was born at the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary in 2003 and raised by his mother. As his name might suggest, Zebedee is a bouncy individual and enjoys interacting with his human carers. He is older brother to Tsingy.
Suarez came to us in 2011 from Chessington Zoo, aged two years old. He makes the perfect partner for mercurial Mangoky, as he is good at doing what he’s told most of the time, but can stand his ground if necessary!
White Fronted Brown Lemurs
These lemurs are also known as white-headed lemurs, because the males have a ring of white fur around their faces. They are found in north-east Madagascar, living in high trees.
Thirty-six-year-old Bella was born in Cologne Zoo and she came to us in in 1990 via Cricket St. Thomas. Bella’s three babies, who were born here, went on to take part in the breeding programme elsewhere. Due to her amazing old age, Bella is now retired and taking life at a leisurely pace, sharing her enclosure with Mongoose Lemur McLovin’.
Except for their colouring, red-ruffed lemurs are very similar to black and white-ruffed lemurs and are, along with these and Mongoose lemurs, the most endangered animals in the sanctuary. This species is found in north-east Madagascar. Our red-ruffed lemur pair, Bonnie and Andro, enjoy each other’s company and can often be seen relaxing in the sunshine or nimbly climbing the trees and rope structures in their beautiful enclosure space. They also enjoy ‘hanging around’ ...quite literally, as their natural feeding position is dangling upside-down!
Back in 2009, Andro (whose name means ‘moon’) came to us for hand-rearing at just a day old, after he was rejected by his mother at the Pheasant Foundation. Andro showed unusual problematic behaviours in his early development and has since been diagnosed with health issues. For this reason, despite being a species in decline in the wild, Andro would not be beneficial for the breeding programme.
Born in Paignton Zoo in 2011, Bonnie came to us via another UK collection in order to keep Andro company. Her keepers recall that to start with, she spent most of her time putting Andro ‘on the naughty step’ while he learned who was in charge!
Mongoose Lemurs are a brown, mid-size variety of lemur which live in the north-west region of Madagascar. Along with red-ruffed and black-and-white ruffed lemurs, they are the most endangered animals in the sanctuary. We have three individuals in our family: McLovin, Catherine and Bjork. Our male geriatric, McLovin, shares enclosure space with his equally elderly female companion of a different species, Bella, while our younger breeding pair, Bjork and Catherine, have a separate enclosure of their own.
McLovin has the most adorable, huge amber eyes and is incredibly precious to us. Wild born and captured illegally, McLovin was originally a victim of the pet trade, having been bought by a Polish sailor. He came to join the breeding programme here at the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary in 2009 from Paradise Wildlife Park via a number of European zoos, but was retired from the programme two years ago. Although now elderly, he still has the character to ward off any human he dislikes!
Born elsewhere in the UK, Catherine came to us from Lynton Zoo in 2006 when she was eight years old. She used to be on the breeding programme with McLovin, but when he retired, she seemed more than happy with his replacement, cute little Bjork, who was sent from Port Lympne Zoo.
Bjork is 12 years old and is a cheeky little chappy. Somewhat of a scaredy cat, he is respectful to Catherine and patiently waits his turn for food.
Black lemurs are energetic animals that love to bounce around the treetops. Despite their name, only the males are black - females are brown with a white ruff round their faces. At the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary we have a breeding pair of black lemurs named Mitsio and Adala and their two daughters, Antaly and Kintana.
Mitsio came to us in 2009 from a Zoological Park in France, where he was born in 2005. He has successfully bred two daughters here at the sanctuary. He is a stunningly beautiful and graceful boy, who often chooses to allow his favourite humans to give him a little tickle on the top of his head through the enclosure mesh.
Adala joined Mitsio on the breeding programme from Dudley Zoo in 2006, when she was three years old. Adala was not the most forceful of females and was soon bullied by her daughters when they reached breeding age. For this reason she and Mitsio were separated and now they have no teenage behaviour to deal with, she is back to her old spritely self.
Antaly and Kintana
Antaly came along first in 2011 and Kintana (whose name means ‘star’) followed two years later. Unusually, these two females assume joint-responsibility for dominance and are affectionately referred to as the ‘tag team’, as they take it in turns to call the shots.