This is Hamish, the Sambirano bamboo lemur. He was born at the Banham Zoo in September of 2010. He was hand reared by a zookeeper after his mother rejected him. He had to be bottle fed day and night After about two months, he was eating fruits and vegetable like the other lemurs, although he was still separated from them. Now he is happily living in the Paris Zoo with his mate Clara.
This funny looking lemur is Hapalemur occidentalis. This lemur goes by four different common names – Sambirano bamboo lemur, western lesser bamboo lemur, the northern bamboo lemur, and the western gentle lemur. For our purposes we’ll just stick to Sambirano bamboo lemur to reduce confusion. It is in the family lemuridae, and one of five species in the genus Hapalemur. It is 55 to 67 centimeters long, half of which is tail! This little guy weighs in at just under a kilogram. Like most lemurs in the genus, they are reddish-brown with grey undersides, so observers often find it difficult to tell which species of Hapalemur they are looking at, since some of their ranges overlap. They prefer forests with bamboo shoots or vines, but have also been seen in degraded or agricultural areas with few trees but bamboo. This primate is a vertical climber and leaper, preferring to stay upright will moving from shoot to shoot. However if it comes to a horizontal branch it needs to cross, it moves as a quadruped. As the name implies, bamboo lemurs eat primarily bamboo. In fact, during part of the year bamboo shoots can make up 90% of its diet, the rest being young leaves and fruits. It is thought that this has caused them to have more dexterity when compared to other lemurs. Sambirano bamboo lemurs are found in groups of three to six, sometimes with more than one reproductive female. Females of this species are dominant, and will even chase males away from prime food spots. During the first two weeks females tend to carry their young in their mouths and place them in the middle of a dense stand of bamboo when they go to forage. After that, the young are almost fully mobile and usually unwilling to stay put if left somewhere. They sometimes try to hold on to their mothers’ necks to hitch a ride, but this behavior is discouraged. Fathers and juveniles actually have a large role in raising the young. Sambirano bamboo lemurs are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.
Their rainforest habitat is being destroyed through slash and burn for agriculture and mining. However, bamboo can thrive in areas where the rainforest has been removed, so this lemur is not as at risk as many of its relatives. Its habitat is broken up into smaller areas throughout north and northwest Madagascar, so some populations of Sambirano bamboo lemurs are isolated. This species was originally described in 1795. It is often hunted for its meat and fur. You can see them at the Banham zoo in the UK (where our featured animal is) and the Cincinnati Zoo. The reason for choosing this species is due to the fact that it is a life-long goal for Marianna to have a bamboo forest in her back yard. Naturally this makes for a logical reason to choose such an amazing species.
Watch this adorable video for more bamboo lemurs!