The lemur walk-through experience has been the jewel of the Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park since its renovation in 2013. Visitors can walk along the bridge with the lemurs through this immersive and lush Madagascar-themed exhibit. Its resident lemurs are a small group of Ring-tailed lemurs, Mahomby, Eray and Efatra, and a family group of Brown lemurs, Papa, Mama, Spider-Mur and Bouclette. These lemurs were rescued from France by a sanctuary in the Netherlands and later donated to the AWCP to live out their days in the warmer climate of Gibraltar.
The lemurs are cared for most days, by keeper, Emily Parslow. Emily joined the AWCP in 2010 as a trainee. A year later she was given a full time position as an Animal keeper and has worked with the lemurs for most of their time at the park.
9:00pm – A typical day on the lemur section begins with feeding and cleaning as well as the sometimes tricky task of swapping the two groups over. When the Brown lemurs arrived, the plan was for a mixed exhibit. Brown and Ring-tailed lemurs often live happily together but for these two groups this perfect harmony was not to be. These Brown lemurs are a very tight knit group and are remarkably territorial. They refused to accept the Ring-tailed lemur group, preferring instead to chase them around the enclosure and pull their beautiful tails, so much so that staff have abandoned dream and there are now plans to move the Brown lemurs to another area of the park in the near future.
For now, a tasty breakfast helps to entice the reluctant lemurs inside to exchange the large enclosure for a smaller area. Every day all enclosures at the AWCP are thoroughly cleaned by staff, inside and out, the plants are hosed and paths cleared, ready for the visitors. Often the Wildlife Park will also have a volunteer or two to help out. Fortunately for Emily, the lemur area is a favourite task among volunteers so she will often gain a much appreciated helping hand.
1:30pm – Once all the animals are fed, cleaned and watered, and not before, the staff can relax for a short while for lunch before work starts again in time for the 2pm feeds. There are now animal feeding times displayed for visitors at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm when a selection of the animals are fed and visitors can watch and learn more about the animals from the keepers.
Lemur Encounters are also new experience the park offers for visitors to get up close and personal with either species. For just £30 for two, participants will help prepare the lemur food and can enter the main area of the lemur enclosure where they can sit with the lemurs and hand feed them whilst listening to lemur facts and information from the keeper. (This experience requires booking to avoid disappointment).
2:00pm – 5:00pm In the afternoons, staff and volunteers will usually carry out maintenance tasks, enrichment and training with the animals. Animal training is becoming an important part of the keeper’s daily routine. Emily has worked over the past few months with Steve Perry, the senior keeper, to crate train the lemurs. This technique allows for the animal to be stationed inside a crate with minimal stress, for transportation. The lemurs have now also been trained to station on scales so they can be weighed. This is very important to ensure the animals are healthy and not gaining or losing too much weight. All this data is entered into a worldwide zoo database system (ZIMS) that allows statistics and data to be shared by zoos around the world.
The AWCP is open every day 10am-4.45pm. More information can be found on the website: www.awcp.gi.