Blue-eyed Black Lemur
SPECIES: Macaco flavifrons
This prosimian is a subspecies of the black lemur. Males are black while females have rufous to tan (and sometime gray) coats dorsally and on the tail, an off-white ventrum, a reddish beard, and dark extremities. Males have noticeable tufts of hair raising from the forehead and female faces are light around the eyes. Distinguishing characteristics are non-tufted ears and gray to blue eyes and body hair is shorter and softer than common black lemurs. Movement is usually by quadrupedal walking or running, but short bursts of bipedal running have been observed. As adults they weigh 4.4 to 5.3 pounds.
GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Northwestern dry deciduous forest of Madagascar.
Leaves, bark, fruits and flowers.
LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
Arboreal. Most activity is diurnal, but sometimes active at night. They live in groups of 2 to 15 with the average being 7 to 10 individuals. Females are dominant. Sexual maturity is reached at 2 years of age. Mating is seasonal, in June or July and gestation is approximately 120 days. There is usually a single young, but twins do occur. Lifespan is 20 to 25 years.
This is the only primate other than humans that has blue eyes. In interbreeding with the black lemurs, offspring will have brown eyes since blue eyes is a recessive trait.
They have a large repertoire of calls for contact, greeting, territorial expression, threats and alarm. Another method of communication is olfactory. Anogenital glands are used for marking by both sexes. Males also use wrist glands and head rubbing for scent marking. Lemurs are territorial and a troop will engage in disputes through vocalizations and gestures with other troops over feeding grounds.
We have two males in the Children's Zoo. They were acquired from Duke University's Lemur Center in 2008. One was born in 1998, one in 1999.
STATUS IN WILD:
All species of Eulemur are listed as endangered by the USDI and on appendix 1 of CITES. This subspecies is not presently in any protected area and is threatened by hunting, trapping and forest destruction. Using the IUCN Red List criteria, it is in the Vulnerable category.