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Lemurs a treat for kids; NATURE CENTRE: Rare species from Madagascar visits city - to mate.

Byline: By Neil Elkes

SIX cute and cuddly lemurs are coming to Birmingham next week - to breed.

Three ring-tailed lemurs and three black and white ruffed lemurs, who originally hail from the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, are being brought together at Edgbaston's Nature Centre in a bid to repopulate the endangered species.

The nature centre, in Cannon Hill Park, will have the primates on show in time for the school summer holidays.

It is part of a scheme programme which places rare and endangered animals in selected captive breeding centres across Europe.

Under the scheme they will gather genetic information to match individuals for mating and offer the species the best chance of survival.

The three ring tailed lemurs arrive from Blackpool Zoo on July 4 and three black and white ruffed lemurs are being shipped in from Drusillas Park. in East Sussex. a day later.

They will join nature centre favourites such as Babu and Tensing, the red pandas, who are also part of a captive breeding programme.

Birmingham City Council's cabinet member for leisure, Coun Ray Hassall, said: "I am sure that the lemurs will be a great attraction this summer.

"It is a credit to the nature centre staff that the centre has again been selected to participate in a captive breeding programme."

Admission prices are on 0121 472 7775.

Lemurs are primates found only on the island nation of Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa. The black and white ruffed lemur has a distinctive white ruff under the chin and around the cheeks, while the ring-tailed lemurs have a grey back, with white under-parts and a white fox-like face with dark brown eye patches. The black and white ruffed lemur is the larger of the two species (approximately 110cm, including the tail). Both species tend to spend much of the daytime in trees and their diet consists of fruit, leaves, shoots, sap and seeds.

CAPTION(S):

ENDANGERED... Lemurs need to breed to repopulate the species in Madagascar.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jun 23, 2006
Words:333
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