Ring-tailed lemur twins at Whipsnade Zoo turn 25

The food-filled presents for Billy and Taffy were shared with the other lemurs

Two ring-tailed lemurs, a species which rarely lives beyond 20 years, have turned 25, a Bedfordshire zoo has confirmed.

Billy and Taffy have lived at Whipsnade Zoo for 15 years.

Keeper Steve Perry called it a "fantastic achievement" for the two animals to reach that age together, and credited their "laid back lifestyle".

The zoo said records showed the oldest single ring-tailed lemur ever to have lived reached 27.

Lemurs

Lemur twins at Whipsnade Zoo
  • Lemurs are an old group of primates which evolved in near isolation after Madagascar split away from the African mainland.
  • They filled the ecological niches occupied by monkeys, the dominant primates, on mainland Africa.
  • Lemur size ranges from the world's smallest primate to - until fairly recently - some of its largest, the sloth lemurs, which rivalled gorillas in size.
  • Lemurs are named after the lemures (ghosts or spirits) of Roman mythology.

In the wild, ring-tailed lemurs are normally found in the dry forests and bush of southern and south-western Madagascar.

'Quite unique'

The species is listed as "near threatened" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as a result of hunting, habitat destruction and microclimatic change.

"For the twins to reach [age 25] together is something really special and quite unique," said Mr Perry.

"Although they've slowed down slightly in recent years and love nothing more than sunbathing in the sunshine next to their waterfall, they're still very inquisitive by nature and love investigating new things."

Zoo staff treated the pair to a birthday cake made of fruit, presents full of their favourite treats to unwrap, and pinatas in the shape of a 25 to mark their day.

Mr Perry said: "Not only will our gifts give them the chance to use their natural curiosity, they'll enjoy them too, and we hope there are many more birthdays to come."

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