You’ll fall in love with the furry faces you meet in our newest exhibit.
Red-ruffed and Ring-tailed Lemurs take advantage of the towering heights beneath the Aquarium’s glass peaks as they climb up, down and around a lush rainforest setting. At times, you may be surprised as the lemurs scamper directly overhead while traveling to a small island to sunbathe.
Found only on the island of Madagascar, these captivating creatures are agile and have rather amazing acrobatic skills. Twice each day, at 10:30 am and 3 pm, you can meet one of our lemur experts who will provide some nutritious snacks for the lemurs and answer your questions.
Radiated Tortoises are also new to Lemur Forest. These ancient-looking creatures are considered by many as one of the most attractive of all tortoises. Their large, domed shells have striking yellow markings. Growing up to 35 pounds, these amazing animals have been known to live for more than 100 years.
The design of Lemur Forest also takes into account each lemur species’ behavior and natural tendencies.
Native to the tropical rainforests canopies of northeastern Madagascar, the larger Red-ruffed Lemurs are primarily arboreal fruit eaters. This group of lemurs spends most of their time in the trees along Lemur Forest’s cliffs, which offer perches soaring more than 30 feet over guests’ heads. Visitors can appreciate the tremendous gripping power of the Red-ruffs back feet as they hang upside down to snack on fruit and nectar during enrichment sessions.
The smaller, more socially inclined Ring-tailed Lemurs, on the other hand, live in larger groups, spend more time on the ground and have adapted to more varied terrain. Besides the luxurious white-and-black tails for which they are named, Ring-tailed Lemurs are best known for sitting to warm themselves, with arms outstretched, in the sunlight. To accommodate this desire to “sun worship,” the southern end of the exhibit is equipped with heat lamps.
Just under the surface of shallow pools surrounding the lemur habitat, large freshwater stringrays swim and settle into the sand, shaded by an assortment of new plants which fill the new space and recreate the natural setting of a tropical island.
In addition to Lemur Forest, the popular Stingray Bay touch tank has been renovated to enhance the guest experience. The shoreline has been reduced in width to provide everyone, especially kids, a chance to get even closer to the sea creatures gently swimming in the warm waters.
Finally, there’s a dramatic new wall of tropical plants to enjoy. Orchids and Nepenthes (pitcher plants) seem to spill color from the ceiling to the floor as water gently cascades into a small, plant-filled pool.
Saving Lemurs in the Wild
More than 100 species of lemur are known to exist, and all are endemic to Madagascar, an island which represents a hotspot of biodiversity. About 80 percent of its plant and animal species are found nowhere else and many are in various states of imperilment.
Populations of all lemur species are decreasing, and more than two-thirds are classified as endangered or critically endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
In Madagascar, lemurs face a plethora of human-induced threats, including habitat loss caused by deforestation and the pet and bush meat trades. When you visit or join the Tennessee Aquarium, your contribution helps us protect imperiled species in our backyard and now internationally. The Tennessee Aquarium proudly provides support to the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group (MFG), a nonprofit organization working to restore habitat and increase lemur populations in Madagascar. MFG chair Dr. Eric Miller recently visited the Tennessee Aquarium just before the opening of our new Lemur Forest exhibit and talked more about lemurs and their plight in the wild: