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Arrived: Sept. 29, 2014
Small Mammals Building
When you’re a zookeeper, the animals with easy-going dispositions are typically the easiest to work with. That’s one reason why Rhonda Crenshaw, area supervisor for the Small Mammals Building at the Milwaukee County Zoo, likes lemurs. “They’re mellow, trainable, smart and curious,” she says. But like most social animals, lemurs can get sad when they’re alone. That’s what happened to Ann, a 26-year-old ring-tailed lemur at the Zoo, when her friend Gandolf died last July. “Ann became very inactive,” says Crenshaw. “She didn’t seem motivated to do much.”
Enter Jenny, a 12-year-old lemur who arrived at the Zoo from the Hattiesburg Zoo in Hattiesburg, Miss., last September. “We brought Jenny here to be a companion to Ann,” says Crenshaw. Thanks to the laid-back nature of lemurs, within a few days the two became close. “Jenny is really sweet,” she adds. “Despite the age difference, Jenny didn’t try to overpower Ann and dominate the exhibit.” Now the two eat together and groom one another. Best of all, Ann’s energy has been restored and she moves around the exhibit again. “I think Jenny’s presence has coaxed Ann to become more active,” says Crenshaw.
Ring-tailed lemurs, like all lemurs, come from the island of Madagascar off the east coast of Africa. In the wild they live in troops that can include 6 to 30 animals. Their diet consists mostly of fruit but also includes leaves, bark and sap. They live in sparse, dry forests. Unfortunately, their habitat is rapidly vanishing, and ring-tailed lemurs are endangered.
Stephanie Harpt, a zookeeper in the Small Mammals Building, also works with the ring-tailed lemurs. She loves watching them sunbathe. “They sit with their bellies facing the sun and their arms spread out a little,” she says. “They look like little Buddhas!”
Arrived: Aug. 20, 2014
He’s already 900 pounds and more than 6½ feet tall, but Stan is the little guy among his new herd of Bactrian camels at the Milwaukee County Zoo. That will change once Stan reaches his full size in about three years. “The males tend to be larger than the females, and Stan will easily top 7 feet when he matures,” says Danielle Faucett, supervisor of Winter Quarters, which includes the Camel Exhibit.
Stan was born in April 2013 and came to Milwaukee from the St. Louis Zoo to be the new breeding male for the all-female herd. But it will be a while before we see any calves at the Zoo – Stan won’t be ready to breed for a couple of years, and gestation takes about 13 months. Faucett expects Addi Jean (A.J.), who is nearly 3 years old, to be the main breeding female. Female camels Sanchi (A.J.’s mother) and Georgia round out the herd, but both are 17 and probably will be too old to breed by the time Stan is mature.
For now, Stan – named after the legendary St. Louis Cardinals baseball player Stan Musial – is content to follow the females. “He gets along with the herd quite well,” Faucett says. He willingly participates in training for treats such as apples, carrots, pears and sweet potatoes. Faucett expects Stan to continue to get along with his fellow camels as he gets older. “Camels are usually easy going in the herd,” she says. “I have a feeling Georgia, our big female, is going to keep him in check.” Stan will easily handle Milwaukee weather. Bactrian camels come from the deserts of Central and East Asia, where they tolerate temperatures from -20 degrees in winter to more than 100 degrees in summer. You will find Stan and the rest of the herd outside throughout the winter.