Today is a historic, but sad day for the Wildheart family. McLovin the Mongoose lemur has passed away.
McLovin was thought to be at least 40 years old, which could well be the oldest ever recorded for the species, and after a decline in health and concerns about his quality of life, and careful consideration between the animal team and the vet the difficult decision was taken.
The Mongoose Lemurs average lifespan is 25-30, with some individuals in human care reaching up to 35, so at 40 years old McLovin was a real record breaker who had quite an amazing life.
Records suggest that he was caught in the wild in Madagascar in 1983 and travelled around the world on a boat as a sailors pet! Then in 1988 he was purchased by Gdansk Zoo in Poland. Over the years that followed he was transferred to Poznan Zoo in Poland, then Bandholm Zoo in Denmark, then Paradise Wildlife Park in the UK, and lastly he made his final move to his forever home on the Isle of Wight in 2009, and lived at the Sanctuary for nearly 14 years. During his time at the Sanctuary he lived amongst other lemurs, most notably his Brown Lemur companion Bella, and Mongoose Lemur Catherine. In his last year he even cohabited with a marmoset for mutual companionship!
His primary carer, Kerry-Ann Trezise said:
“Out of all of the animals in the sanctuary he is one of the most well known and loved due to his endearing character, and his incredible story. To know this little lemur has seen more of the world than most people ever will is amazing.
Anyone who knows me and has visited the sanctuary over the past 14 years will know that he was absolutely my most favourite animal and that we had a special and unique bond.
He was rather particular about who he liked and who he would interact with and over the years became more selective! McLovin and I have had many long conversations over the years and if you have ever heard him, you will know his very special little noise he made when communicating.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to chat to some of the workers from our conservation partners the MFG (Madagascar Flora & Fauna Group) and they said that the likelihood of going to Madagascar and seeing a mongoose lemur is very slim now due to high declining numbers and that a lot of people will go through life now not ever seeing one, and they also have declining numbers in captivity now due to having such a limited gene pool. I know it will never be the same as seeing one in the wild but the fact that I have come to work for many years and shared my day with McLovin is something I will be forever grateful for.
McLovins most favourite things were sunbathing in the window and eating banana”.
Animal manager, Marc Fox said: “McLovin was definitely an iconic sanctuary celebrity and a great little character and will be missed by many. What an amazing story he has! Many species of lemur are endangered due to deforestation in Madagascar, and then to add to that stories of baby lemurs being caught in the wild to be kept as pets is also very sad. McLovin was one of the lucky ones who at least did end up in professional care where he would live in large naturalistic enclosures with a good diet and company with other lemurs. He was well loved here and part of that is making the right decision for him when the time comes, and not letting him suffer”.
All of the team at the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary are deeply saddened by his loss, and we hope you will join us as we remember and pay tribute to him today.