The Lehigh Valley Zoo in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, is building a new home for a potential breeding pair of lemurs with a suite for any babies they may have.
The indoor/outdoor site, called "Habitat Madagascar," will house the zoo's lemurs and tortoises. It is expected to open in Spring 2022.
The habitat will include indoor and outdoor spaces so the animals can live in the exhibit year round. The construction also aims to create a safe breeding environment for a pair of lemurs that arrived at the zoo last year, according to a press release.
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The animals will spend the warmer months in the nearly 300-square-foot outdoor area and move to the 500-square-foot indoor exhibit space during the colder months.
The 1,600-square-foot building will also include a "behind-the-scenes" living space for the animals when they are not on exhibit.
The zoo's male and female mongoose lemurs, Abby and Mico, will move into Habitat Madagascar immediately.
The indoor exhibit space will be designed to create a safe breeding environment for Abby and Mico, who are a potential breeding pair. There will also be a separate suite for potential lemur babies and mothers.
The current lemur exhibit space, which is located entirely outdoors on Lemur Island, is not ideal for a breeding pair, according to the press release.
The zoo's African Leopard Tortoises will also call Habitat Madagascar their new home. The tortoises currently spend the year in multiple exhibits and living spaces depending on the weather and temperature.
The multiple-species environment aligns with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' goal to develop mixed species habitats so the public can see species living together as they would in the wild.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums recommended Abby and Mico as a prospective breeding pair to support the conservation of the species. Lemur babies are usually born in the spring and each breeding pair produces one offspring per breeding season.
Mongoose Lemurs are critically endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List. Human activity negatively impacts lemur populations, causing them to rapidly diminish on the island of Madagascar.
Lemurs and tortoises are also poached and sold by humans, sometimes into the illegal, exotic pet trade.
The exhibit's indoor lobby will feature digital educational and conservation messaging with information about the species in the exhibit. The zoo hopes to highlight the challenges the animals face and teach guests how to support wild species to ensure their survival.