Ring-Tailed Lemur
(Lemur catta)

Black & White Ruffed Lemur
(Varecia varigata)

Lemurs are primates, but they are in a special group called prosimians, which means “before monkeys”. Lemurs were here first.

Almost 40 million years ago the ancestors of the lemurs reached Madagascar and remained there, isolated from all the other Apes and Monkeys. Until 2000 years ago they were the only primates on the island, until humans got there by boat from Africa.

Lemurs are mostly vegetarians, feeding on fruit, leaves and shoots. They live in rain forests, savannas and even cactus forests, leaping carefully from cactus to cactus avoiding the spikes. Some lemurs are active by day like ours, others are only active at night.

Currently Bowmanville has zoo has a troop of ring tailed lemurs and a troop of ruffed lemurs.

Facts & Myths

Lemurs all really do come from, like the movie says, MADAGASCAR!  Madagascar is a large island off the coast of Africa. Monkeys are not found on Madagascar, because they never reached the island before it was cut off by the sea. Having the place to themselves has allowed lemurs to thrive there.  There are 101 species of lemurs on Madagascar.

Unfortunately, most lemurs are endangered due to habitat destruction. We are very pleased we have breeding groups now of three species here at the zoo. Zoo populations act as a back up population in case of disaster in the wild such as disease sweeping through wild groups. Some lemur species are already extinct – one extinct species was the size of a gorilla.

Females rule the roost! Ring tailed lemur troops are led by the strongest female, the males eat after all the females are done and can be the equivalent of the hen pecked husband. Taking our male lemurs out of the troop to interact with our trainers gives them a relaxing break away from the girls.

Ring tailed lemurs are sun worshippers and love to sit facing the sun arms outstretched. When things get a little more lively in the group you can watch them settle differences with stink fights, rubbing their glands on the branches to proclaim their standing in the group. The smelliest lemur wins.

The black and white ruffed lemurs have a noisy shrieking chorus they use to bond together as a group or raise the alarm with. You can hear their deep, barking, calls from great distances. Not just throughout the zoo but all the way to town.

As many as twelve different ruffed lemur calls have been recorded and each call has a different meaning to the lemurs.

Lemurs at the Bowmanville Zoo

The lemur troops at the Bowmanville Zoo are famous for many TV shows and appearances. The lemurs love interacting with their trainers and enjoying individual attention while on set. The most famous of our ring tailed lemurs is Petie. He starred in the movie Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, starring Natalie Portman and Dustin Hoffman.  Petie was the lemur who leapt out of the magic book onto the child’s head.  That little boy went on to be a big cat trainer here at our zoo.

Visitors can observe and feed the lemurs near the zoo’s entrance. We also have bookable lemur encounters. You can also see them up close in the zoos AnimaTheatre shows.

The zoos AnimaTheatre shows are FREE, included in your zoo day pass.

Monkey Chow suitable for feeding many of the zoos animals including the lemurs are available at the entrance and cost $2 per bag.

Never feed any of the zoo animals food that has not been provided by zoo staff.  You could make them very sick.