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New arrivals Fota Wildlife Park celebrates birth of endangered lemurs – and wants help to name them

Lead ranger Teresa Power said the births are a major boost for the park's conservation programme.

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The black-and-white ruffed lemur is a critically endangered species. Photo: Fota Wildlife Park/Twitter

The black-and-white ruffed lemur is a critically endangered species. Photo: Fota Wildlife Park/Twitter

The black-and-white ruffed lemur is a critically endangered species. Photo: Fota Wildlife Park/Twitter

FOTA Wildlife Park is celebrating the birth of three critically endangered black-and-white ruffed lemur babies.

The lemur babies were born to mother Cloud who is 19-years-old, and nine-year-old Fota-born dad Paraic.

All were born on June 3 at the east Cork park. The new arrivals now share their island habitat on the main lake at Fota with their four older siblings, twin brothers Nimbus and Cumulus who were born in 2019, and brother and sister twins, Banie and Dubh, born in June last year.

Lead ranger Teresa Power said the births are a major boost for the park's conservation programme.

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DKANE 11/08/2021 REPRO FREE One of the three new baby Black and White Ruffed Lemur’s recently born in Fota Wildlife Park, Co Cork. Fota Wildlife Park has announced the birth of three critically endangered black and white ruffed lemur babies (Varecia variegatea) to mother Cloud who is nineteen years old and nine-year-old Fota-born dad Paraic. Fota Wildlife Park is calling on the public to help name the three youngsters, whose gender is still unknown, via an online form on their blog at www.fotawildlife.ie/blog and be in with a chance to win one of three Conservation Annual Passes to Fota Wildlife Park. PIC Darragh Kane

DKANE 11/08/2021 REPRO FREE One of the three new baby Black and White Ruffed Lemur’s recently born in Fota Wildlife Park, Co Cork. Fota Wildlife Park has announced the birth of three critically endangered black and white ruffed lemur babies (Varecia variegatea) to mother Cloud who is nineteen years old and nine-year-old Fota-born dad Paraic. Fota Wildlife Park is calling on the public to help name the three youngsters, whose gender is still unknown, via an online form on their blog at www.fotawildlife.ie/blog and be in with a chance to win one of three Conservation Annual Passes to Fota Wildlife Park. PIC Darragh Kane

DKANE 11/08/2021 REPRO FREE One of the three new baby Black and White Ruffed Lemur’s recently born in Fota Wildlife Park, Co Cork. Fota Wildlife Park has announced the birth of three critically endangered black and white ruffed lemur babies (Varecia variegatea) to mother Cloud who is nineteen years old and nine-year-old Fota-born dad Paraic. Fota Wildlife Park is calling on the public to help name the three youngsters, whose gender is still unknown, via an online form on their blog at www.fotawildlife.ie/blog and be in with a chance to win one of three Conservation Annual Passes to Fota Wildlife Park. PIC Darragh Kane

“We are delighted with the birth of three new lemur babies. Both the babies and their mother Cloud are doing well,” she said.

“Births in the park are always exciting but with 31pc of all lemur species in Madagascar now critically endangered and 98pc of lemurs threatened, to have such continued success with these critically endangered lemurs is tremendous. It’s a great indication of how happy and healthy these primates are here at the park.”

Madagascar has lost 90pc of its forest cover in the last 200 years.

This has resulted in 80pc of its animal and plant life being in danger of extinction. Sadly, there are less than 250 black-and-white ruffed lemurs remaining in the wild today.

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All three bland-and-white ruffed lemurs were born on June 3 at Fota Wildlife Park in east Cork. The new arrivals now share their island habitat with their four older siblings. Photo: Fota Wildlife Park/Twitter

All three bland-and-white ruffed lemurs were born on June 3 at Fota Wildlife Park in east Cork. The new arrivals now share their island habitat with their four older siblings. Photo: Fota Wildlife Park/Twitter

All three bland-and-white ruffed lemurs were born on June 3 at Fota Wildlife Park in east Cork. The new arrivals now share their island habitat with their four older siblings. Photo: Fota Wildlife Park/Twitter

Fota Wildlife Park is now asking for the public’s help to name the three new arrivals.

Though the gender of the new arrivals is not yet known, the park is inviting name suggestions via their website to be in with a chance of winning one of three, year-long conservation annual passes to Fota.

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Like Dublin Zoo, staff at Fota are working hard to recover from the fall-out to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both parks had to shut down for months – and only survived because of emergency funding from the Government.

Fota director Sean McKeown said the park is almost entirely dependent on income from ticket sales.

“Some 95pc of our income comes from visitors that come to the park, so we are totally dependent on that to actually run the park," he said.

It costs €380,000 to run Fota every month. The 100-acre park ranks as one of the world's leading breeding centres for endangered species and boasts 135 different animal species.

A not-for-profit charity, it critically depends on its gate receipts.

Fota has an annual turnover of around €6m, with more than 150 staff at peak summer operations.

Because of the Covid-19 shutdown, Fota had to suspend work on the long-planned redevelopment of its popular Monkey Island, while vital flood protection schemes have also been stalled.

Each month, the food bill for Fota's animals is around €15,000.

The majority of Fota's animals represent some of the most endangered species on the planet.

Opened in 1983 on part of the old Smith-Barry estate, the park attracted almost 470,000 visitors annually before the pandemic.

About half of its visitors are tourists and the park delivers a €200m boost to the local economy each season.

Five years ago, Fota opened its new €6m Asian sanctuary and added a pride of Asian lions to the list of endangered species it is now hoping to breed.

They joined Sumatran tigers as the park expanded its 'big cat' status which, from the park's opening, had revolved solely around cheetahs.

A total of €14m has been invested by Fota in a major expansion of its facilities and animal attractions since 2010.

Since it opened, it has established itself as one of the world's most successful parks for endangered species breeding programmes.

Endangered species successfully bred at Fota have been distributed to zoos and wildlife parks across four continents.

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