Blue-Eyed Black Lemur

Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo

Location

In the Zoo

Scientific Information

Scientific Name: Eulemur flavifrons
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Lemuridae
Genus: Eulemur

Size

Male

Female

Height:
Length: up to 44 inches up to 44 inches
Weight: up to 5 pounds up to 5 pounds
Maturity: 2 years 2.5-3 years

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Diet: Omnivorous
Activity Timeframe: Activity peaks around dusk and dawn, but these lemurs have been observed in activity throughout the day and night.
Interactivity:
Sexual Dimorphism: Yes
Gestation: 126 Days
Lifespan in the Wild:
Lifespan in Captivity: 20+ years

Geographic Range

Africa. Madagascar. This species exists only on the Sahamalaza Peninsula and a narrow stretch of forest on the adjacent mainland in northwestern Madagascar.

Conservation

Status in the Wild: Critically Endangered
Threats: Habitat Loss

Characteristics

Group size ranges from 4-11 individuals. There are often more males than females in a group, though females are dominant. These animals have not been studied extensively in the wild, but are thought to be fairly aggressive due to numerous failed attempts to introduce a troop into a mixed species, multi acre forest enclosure at the Duke Lemur Center. Similarly to other lemurs, Blue-eyed Black Lemurs rely heaving on olfactory communication. Both sexes have anogenital scent glands, while males also scent mark using their wrists and the surface of their head.

Species Specifics

Physical Characteristics

Both sexes have scent glands that are used to mark their territory. Females rub their anal gland on a tree to mark it, while males also have scent glands on their palms/wrists and head.

Ecology

Habitat

Tropical sub-humid forest and dry deciduous forest. Prefers primary forest to secondary but will live in either. Home ranges are larger for individuals in secondary forest habitat, suggesting that this habitat is less suitable.

Distribution

Diet

Fruit is the preferred food source when it is abundant during the rainy season. When condition are dryer and less fruit is available, leaves, nectar, flowers, and seeds are commonly eaten. They have also been observed to feed on arthropods such as millipedes and cicadas.

Ecological Web

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern

Behavior

Large social groups benefit these lemurs in several ways. Females are often observed assisting with the care of infants from other females in the same troop, leading to increased infant survival. Living in a group also deters predators that prefer to hunt solitary prey and multiplies the number of eyes keeping a watch for predators that do try to prey on lemurs.

Social Behavior

Large social groups benefit these lemurs in several ways. Females are often observed assisting with the care of infants from other females in the same troop, leading to increased infant survival. Living in a group also deters predators that prefer to hunt solitary prey and multiplies the number of eyes keeping a watch for predators that do try to prey on lemurs.

Reproductive Behavior

Breeding season is from April-June, and young are born in the fall. At the same time females are approaching estrous, the males' testicles will increase in size and they will become more aggressive towards each other. After giving birth, mothers will guard their newborns aggressively for the first few days to a week, eventually letting juveniles from the troop have first access to investigate the baby, followed by her mate and eventually the other females in the troop.

Offspring

Single births most common, twins on occasion. The infant clings to its mother's belly for the first three weeks, shifting position only to nurse. At three to four weeks of age they will begin to make short exploration away from their mother (only a foot or two at first). The begin exploring solid food at 4-6 weeks, and nursing will steadily decline in importance in their diet until they are weaned at 5-6 months.

Conservation

Status

These lemurs were upgraded by the IUCN from Endangered to Critically Endangered in 2011 due decline in the area and quality of habitat available to them. Eulemur flavifrons was included In the IUCN's list of the world's 25 most endangered primates in 2008, 2010, and 2012. It was removed from the list in 2014, in part due to the creation of Sahamalaza-Iles Radama National Park in 2007.

Historical

Blue-eyed Black Lemurs are one of the most recently defined species of lemurs. They were originally classified as a sub-species of the Black Lemur (Eulemur macaco) but after further research and genetic analysis were separated into their own species in 2008. Blue-eyed Black Lemurs can be distinguished from Common Black Lemurs by eye color, female fur color (common black lemur females are duller grey-brown), and lack of ear tufts.

Current Threats

Habitat Loss

Our Role

Oakland Zoo is a partner of Centre ValBio, on the edge of Ranomafana National Park in eastern Madagascar. Centre ValBio (http://www.stonybrook.edu/commcms/centre-valbio/index.html) promotes world class research while encouraging local environmental conservation and providing local villagers with the knowledge and tools to improve their quality of life. Oakland Zoo staff and volunteers have traveled to Centre ValBio multiple times to assist with these missions.

How You Can Help

The biggest threats facing these animals are habitat destruction, hunting, and poaching. You can help these animals by educating others about the dangers they face, and by making philanthropic contributions to non-profit organization that work to conserve wildlife and natural habitat in Madagascar. Ecotourism is also a large source of funding for conservation projects in Madagascar.

Fascinating Facts

These animals are the only non-human primate that have blue eyes.

Although sexes are easily distinguished as adults, both males and females are born with the orange-brown coloration of adult females. A young male’s fur will darken to black within 4-8 weeks from birth.

Due to the stark color difference between males and females, they were first classified at two different species.

References

http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/8211/0

http://lemur.duke.edu/discover/meet-the-lemurs/blue-eyed-black-lemur/

Garbutt, Nick, Hilary Bradt, and Derek Schuurman. Madagascar Wildlife: A Visitor's Guide. 3rd ed. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot, 2008. Print. Bradt Travel Guides.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/gorgeous-blue-eyed-lemur-faces-extinction-in-11-years/

http://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/blue-eyed_black_lemur

https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/2015-033.pdf

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