Zookeepers play matchmakers for endangered lemur pair

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A red-bellied lemur and her toy boy have tied the knot in an extravagant mock wedding ceremony staged by Woburn’s creative keepers.

Fifteen-year old red-bellied lemur bride Angel and seven-year old fluffy fiancé Bonaire made their love official ahead of the autumn mating season in the wooded surroundings of the Land of the Lemurs enclosure. The ceremony was attended by a troop of curious red-bellied, ring-tailed, red-fronted and black-and-white-ruffed lemur guests.

Afterwards, their keepers served up a plethora of scrumptious and stimulating enrichment treats to help the loveable lemurs scoff, play and celebrate in style. In record time, they had devoured a special lemur-friendly wedding cake, which was crafted from vegetables, apple slices and a soya yogurt icing. The endangered residents of Land of Lemurs also crunched into some frozen wedding favours that doubled as decorations for the event; containing juicy carrots, peppers and crushed grapes.

Cheeky ring-tailed lemur bridesmaids Anya and Coco loved their corsages made of edible red roses, rosemary, lavender and bamboo, but instead of wearing them the duo also gobbled the flowers! A snuffle mat added a splash of colour to proceedings and doubled up as fun enrichment for black-and white-ruffed lemur wedding guests Tulem, Mia and Boddington, who foraged in it (as they would in the wild) for cucumber, swede, peppers and leeks.

Woburn’s cupid keepers introduced the cuddly couple as potential mates because Angel’s genes are underrepresented in the captive population, making them a very important match.

Red bellied lemurs are vulnerable to extinction, so ex-situ conservation is important to help ensure the species’ future survival. While Angel is an experienced mum, Bonaire was initially a little nervous because he had never met a female before, but the loved-up lemurs hit it off quickly and can often be spotted snuggling up together in the walk-through enclosure.

Park keeper Leigh Colin commented: “I am delighted that my idea of wedding themed enrichment went down so well, and the happy couple are closer than ever. When they’re not sunbathing they’re either calling out for each other, snuggling up, sleeping together, rubbing heads or sniffing each other’s butts! Angel will be in season come autumn, so we have our fingers crossed for a baby lemur as early as next spring.”