Look who is enjoying a nice sunny day…
The Red Ruffed Lemurs like to spend time in their side cages when the weather is nice. Iris has found a great spot to kick back and relax.
Cynthia, who is our oldest Red Ruffed Lemur, turned 33 years old on March 30th. This makes Cynthia the oldest Red Ruffed Lemur in the country. 33 years is old for any lemur considering the average lifespan in captivity is early twenties. In the wild, lemurs tend to live longer to around mid-twenties. Since lemurs are endemic to Madagascar, it can be difficult to replicate their dietary and habitat needs in a captive environment. The keepers felt that 33 years of life for a lemur would be a great reason to celebrate. On Thursday the 27th, we provided the Red Ruffed Lemurs with a variety of different enrichment items. They received puzzle feeders, skewers, streamers, and colorful bags with dried fruit. At the 2pm lemur program, guest sang “Happy Birthday” from Lemur viewing and keepers talked about Cynthia as well as general information on lemurs.
If you were unable to make it to the Birthday celebration, here are some pictures of the big day….
The keepers and guest had a great time watching the Red Ruffed Lemurs explore and manipulate their enrichment items. After it was all over, they all found their spots on the perching and rested.
Cynthia, our oldest Red Ruffed Lemur, will be turning 33 years old on March 30th. On March 27th, the Explore the Wild team (Autumn and myself) will be providing Cynthia and the other Red Ruffed Lemurs with different types of enrichment and food items so that we can celebrate this milestone. This will provide the Red Ruffed Lemurs with great opportunities to interact with different food items and enrichment plus give the keepers a chance to take a lot of pictures! So, this will be very enriching to the keepers.
My next post will show what we did for Cynthia on her big day plus how she and the other Red Ruffed Lemurs interacted with all the items.
In addition to last week’s snow, we took four animal over to VSH in Durham. The Veterinary Specialty Hospital along with Dr. Cindy Godshalk of East Coast Veterinary Imaging donated their facility, services, and staff to ultrasound and radiograph four of our animals. AND, this isn’t the first time they’ve stepped up and helped out:
The first time was 3.5 years ago when Cassandra needed an ultrasound. Last year we brought two snakes to VSH in Cary for ultrasounds with Dr. Godshalk. And in 2102, Dr. Godshalk and her crew came on grounds to ultrasound the female wolf.
Last week a pine snake (Megatron), a ferret (Dixie), a bearded dragon (Jr.) and a red ruffed lemur (Iris) all needed tests: ultrasounds and radiographs. Dr. Vanderford arranged with VSH and Dr. Godshalk to bring our critters in on Monday.
Jen, one of the Vet Techs, was helping us left and right and with this and that and everything else. We were really fortunate that she, and everyone else, was excited to have the slithery and scaly and furry exotic critters we brought with us.
Megatron, one of our adult male pine snakes, needed radiographs. (He is the father of the pine snakes that hatched in July 2012). He has a section of his body that doesn’t really bend, so we wanted to get “x-rays” to check things out. The pictures showed some calcification on the spine. We don’t know why this happens, but we’ve seen it before in other snakes. We’ll be really careful when handling him and let him get exercise on flat surfaces.
Dixie, one of our four ferrets needed an ultrasound. We wanted to see if she had insulinoma. An insulinoma is a tumor on the pancreas. This is a very common ferret disease. Dixie had to be shaved for the ultrasound. We tried to hold her still but were unsuccessful so we had to use anesthesia to sedate her for the ultrasound. It doesn’t look like Dixie has an insulinoma, however we need to review the ultrasounds and determine next steps in case there are other issues to move on.
Iris, a 22-year-old red ruffed lemur was next. Katy saw some concerning cells in a urine test she had run- cells that could be indicative of cancer. Good timing that Katy found this out a few days before our visit to VSH so Iris came along to be checked out.
We were thinking there might be bladder cancer, or a cancer of the reproductive organs, but that wasn’t found. That’s good news for sure. I cannot tell anything when I look at the ultrasound pictures, but we’ll be reviewing what was learned and determining what steps are next. (Dr. Godshalk is a board certified radiologist so it doesn’t matter that I cannot recognize anything- she takes care of all that!)
Junior was the last patient. She’s a bearded dragon. A few weeks ago her beard was quite swollen and Jr. wasn’t eating well. Dr. Vanderford and Katy sedated her at the Museum and pulled about 8 cc of fluid from her beard. While she has improved, we wanted to further assess and try to determine the cause of her issues.
Junior was possibly the easiest of the four animals to work with. She didn’t need to get shaved (no fur on reptiles). She didn’t need to get sedated- she just held still without any wiggling or struggling. She made it really easy.
After Junior finished with the ultrasound, she went in for radiographs. Jen was able to get great films, and she even got Junior to hold still on her side! While the ultrasound didn’t show any smoking gun, an unrelated finding on the radiographs shows some real issues with Junior’s vertebrae.
Thanks so much to VSH!! The generosity and help of all the staff their have been wonderful. We are very fortunate to have them help us care for our animal population.
This week the red ruffed lemurs got their annual physicals.
All three girls- Cynthia, Iris, and Jethys- did great. Each one, from pre-sedation to reversal took 37 minutes. We’re waiting for blood work to come back, but everyone’s initial findings seemed to be okay. Our girls are getting old so I always have concerns about what the tests will show. Cynthia is almost 32 years old. The Duke lemur center only has one red ruffed lemur older than her.
Katy was running a rectal thermometer and an ear thermometer to see if the temperatures were the same (which they were).
Hopefully all the blood work comes back okay! In September, we’ll do physicals on the ring tailed lemurs. (More pictures then.
If you are a regular visitor you may have noticed a change at lemurs. The ring tailed lemurs are now in the inside exhibit and the red ruffed lemurs will spend their estrus cycle off exhibit. We made the switch on one of our closed Mondays. In terms of animal stress it was minimal. All lemurs spent a lot of time exploring their new areas. I snapped several great pictures of the ring tailed lemurs checking out every square inch of their new exhibit. They climbed on everything they possibly could! I stayed up there with them to monitor their exploration, making sure they didn’t get hurt during their excitement. Now that their exhibit is no longer novel, they have been enjoying snuggling up together in a lemur ball on the ground. Look down and to your left if you don’t immediately see them. Click here to see how the red ruffed lemurs are doing off exhibit.
I recently mentioned we’re now working on crate training the red ruffed lemurs. It’s been quite awhile since they have worked on this behavior. The last couple days have been very successful. All three lemurs have gone all the way into their crates.
This is just the beginning so check back soon for updates.
Iris is going into the top crate at the same time that Jethys is going into the bottom crate.
It’s been awhile since I’ve updated and we’ve seen a lot of progress. My last post was about Cassandra exploring the vet room. We allowed her to do this once more and it went about the same as the first time. I believe the second time, she took longer to come down, seemed like she was enjoying exploring too much. Before that I wrote about crate training, which has been my biggest goal with the ring-tailed lemurs. (now it’s our biggest goal with the red ruffed lemurs too, check back for future posts about that)
Their physicals were way back in September, on that particular day I was only able to crate Cassandra. The boys both went into their crate but then bounced right back out, Sherry said catching them was very easy that day. We also changed where the lemurs wait for sedation. We started using a metal cage located in the vet room. It’s roomier which makes it easier to get the lemur out of.
This is an added part of crate training. I bring the lemurs into the building and then open this cage and their crate door and ask them to go inside. I have also been practicing this behavior with the lemurs down at the lemur house. We took an extra vet room cage and placed it inside their holding space in the lemur house. It’s big and silver and makes a lot of noise when the jump on it, but the good news is, this behavior is working. They are not afraid of it and have no problems climbing all over and inside of it, making their visit to the vet room much less stressful.
About a week later we needed to get blood work on Cassandra again. It was very easy to crate her using training which made everything run smoother. Then in November I noticed Lycus was holding his left hand across his chest. It seemed like a shoulder injury. Dr V came in to check him out and decided she wanted to do hands on with him. This meant getting him into the crate and bringing him to the building. Using training it was super easy. I still practice crate training a couple times a week. It has helped the process of vet visits tremendously and it’s something I want to continue working on. Next challenge is crate training the red ruffed lemurs.
I wanted to share some Lemur photos.
If you remember back several months ago- we had two interns Casey and Jessica who did their enrichment project for the lemurs- it was a teepee tree. We still use it and here are some recent photos of the ring tails climbing on it.
As for the red ruffed lemurs, we were treating Iris twice a day with medicine that we put in mashed banana, which often meant her sister and mother also got mashed banana as a treat. Here are photos of Jethys (Iris’ sister) who was so “excited” about her banana- she took the bowl right out of my hand and held it herself- hahaha
Hope you enjoyed- here’s Lycus to say GOODBYE