weather icon Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Endangered lemur’s birth surprises Roos-N-More owners

She doesn’t have her mother’s eyes just yet, but she definitely has her tail.

Meet Marques the ring-tailed lemur, the newest addition to the family-run Roos-N-More zoo in Moapa.

The 3-ounce baby was born April 14 to a licensed breeding pair of the endangered primates that Las Vegas veterinarians Jay and Valerie Holt raised by hand.

“It’s a great accomplishment for us,” Valerie Holt said. “We were ecstatic.”

They also were a little surprised.

Holt said they had no idea Marques’ mother was pregnant. Macoco was uncharacteristically grumpy the day before she gave birth, but they chalked that up to stress from a recent change to the home-based zoo’s lemur enclosure.

Marques was born with her species’ namesake white-and-black striped tail. At the moment, though, her eyes are more of a chocolate brown color instead of the bright orange sported by her parents.

Holt said she is pretty sure Marques is female, but Macoco hasn’t given her a chance to find out for sure. The baby has been attached securely to her mother’s chest since birth.

“She’s very, very protective. No one’s gotten to hold the baby yet,” she said.

Marques probably will stay clamped to her mother for the next few months. Holt said the baby is surprisingly strong for her size — strong enough to hang on while her mother bounces around her cage.

Marques is the first lemur born at the Moapa zoo, but she isn’t its first endangered animal.

The Holts also have a captive-breeding permit for Brush-tailed Bettongs, which are small, endangered marsupials that look like a cross between a rat and a kangaroo.

“They like Moapa,” Holt said. “We’ve probably had eight births since we’ve been here.”

They also have had some luck breeding kangaroos and African crested porcupines.

“It’s just the coolest thing,” said Roos-N-More staff member LynnLee Schmidt. “We’ve got the mojo going on. We’ve got babies all over the place.”

Holt is trying to line up a breeding partner for another endangered member of her menagerie, a male red-fronted brown lemur named Mowgli.

“We’re crossing our fingers that there is a girlfriend on the horizon for Mowgli soon,” she said.

Andrea Katz is the curator for the Duke University Lemur Center, an 85-acre sanctuary in the North Carolina forest that is home to the world’s largest captive population of lemurs.

She said there are probably fewer than 5,000 ring-tailed lemurs left in the wild and a few thousand more living in captivity.

Katz could not say how many lemurs are born in captivity worldwide each year, but 295 ring-tailed lemurs have been born at the Duke Lemur Center since 1968.

“Any lemur is an endangered species, so any birth is a good for the population,” she said.

All lemurs come from Madagascar, where a growing human population and recent political instability have hastened habitat destruction that began when humans first settled the large Indian Ocean island 2,000 years ago.

“They’re at great risk from habitat destruction and habitat fragmentation. It’s a very serious problem,” Katz said.

Holt got her first exotic animal, a Bennett’s wallaby named Pogo, as a birthday present from Jay in 2002. She decided early on that captive breeding of endangered animals was something she wanted to do.

“This is my little bit of conservation,” she said.

The Holts and their two children now share their 3-acre spread about 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas with about 200 animals, exotic and domestic.

They plan to keep Marques, who Holt views as the newest member of their extended family.

Katz doesn’t blame her.

Though she believes lemurs should be treated as wild animals and not as pets, she certainly understands people’s fascination with them.

“They’re just incredibly charming little animals,” Katz said.

Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean@review
journal.com or 702-383-0350.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Governor calls budget special session

Gov. Joe Lombardo has signed a proclamation to convene the Legislature into its 34th special session at 8 p.m. Tuesday to take up the capital projects budget.

Are Apple’s new ‘Vision Pro’ goggles what VR has been looking for?

Apple on Monday unveiled a long-rumored headset that will place its users between the virtual and real world, while also testing the technology trendsetter’s ability to popularize new-fangled devices after others failed to capture the public’s imagination.