Zoo welcomes rare black lemur baby

A rare black lemur has been born at a zoo and is thriving under the watchful guidance of its parents.

The baby lemur is settling in at Drusillas Park, in Alfriston, East Sussex, and is thought to be female due to the species' strong sexual dimorphism - males are all black with orange eyes, while females are brown with a pale belly and white ear tufts.

A spokeswoman for the zoo said the baby will be carried around by her mother for up to six months and will be nursed for about 135 days.

Her parents, Clementine and Lotfi, were introduced in 2010 as part of the European Endangered Species Programme, arriving from zoos in Portugal and Tunisia respectively, the spokeswoman said.

The latest addition is the couple's second baby, following the birth of Tsito at Drusillas in April 2011.

Zoo manager Sue Woodgate said: "We are delighted with the new arrival. She is very special indeed, particularly when you consider that there were only 18 black lemurs born and survived in Europe last year."

A new survey carried out by the Primate Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature concluded that lemurs are far more threatened than previously thought.

In the wild, black lemurs are only found in the forest areas of northern Madagascar where they are considered vulnerable mainly due to hunting and the destruction of the habitat in which they live.

The zoo population of this species is managed by a specialist co-ordinator on behalf of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.

The co-ordinator is responsible for the movement of animals between zoos for the purpose of breeding.