Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire welcomed three very special new arrivals to the Primate Section recently – two incredibly rare Lemur species and a new mate for their male Sloth.
Writing exclusively for Discover Animals, Natalie Horner, Deputy Section Head of Primates and Small Mammals at Cotswold Wildlife explains what is involved in welcoming new animals and how they are settled in to their new homes.
The arrival of ‘Flash’, our female Linne’s Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus didactylus), was definitely an exciting time for me. Sloths are one of my favourite species for many reasons but mainly because of their peculiar anatomy and behaviour.
Flash joined us from Biotropica in France. The hope was that ‘Flash’ and ‘Tambo’ would begin a budding romance and provide us with the Park’s first baby Sloth! Although it is still early days, ‘Flash’ and ‘Tambo’ have been seen sat together so fingers crossed for some successful breeding in the future.
Our Sloths reside in the Tropical house, which is an amazing enclosure filled with plenty of climbing opportunities and quiet places to sleep so there wasn’t much in terms of enclosure preparation to be done before introducing ‘Flash’ to the exhibit. It was so wonderful to see ‘Flash’ exploring her new home with such confidence.
Earlier this year we welcomed a female Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus) from Cologne Zoo in Germany. With only 23 Greater Bamboo Lemurs in captivity, this was a very special and important animal move. ‘Bijou’ was paired with our male ‘Raphael’ and older female ‘Gizmo’.
We are hoping that Bijou and Raphael will successfully breed in the future and help bolster the captive population of this endangered Madagascan primate. Our older female Gizmo is the grand old age of 22 so is no longer of breeding age. Introducing a new animal to an existing group can have its challenges so we planned a slow introduction of all three individuals to ensure that all went smoothly when they met physically.
One of our main worries was not creating too much stress for elderly Gizmo, so monitoring their behaviour closely was crucial to ensure all animals remained happy and healthy. Thankfully the introduction was a success and all three Lemurs can be seen happily together in the Park’s walk-through Lemur exhibit, Madagascar.
Also arriving earlier this year, we received a male Crowned Sifaka (Propithecus coronatus) from Apenheul Primate Park in Holland. Being one of the rarest Lemurs in captivity, we are only one of two UK collections to house them. ‘Maitso’ is five years old and unfortunately wasn’t getting on with his group in Apenheul.
With no females available to pair Maitso with, it was recommended that Maitso join us here in Burford and live within our Lemur walk-through with our group of Ring-tailed and Collared Lemurs. Maitsohad never lived within a public walkthrough before so monitoring his behaviour towards our visitors was one of our main priorities. Thankfully he’s such a friendly boy that the main issue we found was he liked people a little too much and would try to follow everyone around the enclosure which got a little tiring. After a couple of weeks, the novelty wore off and Maitso is now much more interested in interacting with his Lemur friends.
For more information on visiting Cotswold Wildlife park go to www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk