The Calgary Zoo announced the “unexpected” death of one of two critically-endangered black-and-white ruffed lemurs on Friday.
The death comes less than two months after the zoo’s Land of Lemurs exhibit opened to the public.
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The zoo said two-year-old “Sava” came to them from the Twycross Zoo in England. The zoo’s senior veterinarian said the lemur had developed an extremely rare condition which caused her stomach to “twist and fold in on itself.”
“This was the first time we’ve ever seen it at our zoo,” said Doug Whiteside. “I’ve worked with lemurs for over 22 years and this is the first case I’ve ever seen.”
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Whiteside said the zoo’s veterinary team first noticed signs something was wrong on Wednesday, but that it appeared her condition was improving. On Thursday morning, he said she was found unconscious and taken to the zoo’s animal health centre for emergency surgery.
“Unfortunately she never recovered from the surgery,” he said.
Sava was one of only two black-and-white ruffed lemurs at the Calgary Zoo and there had been a plan to breed the pair.
Whiteside said there was no evidence of the condition when she first arrived at the zoo, but that it can arise very quickly in animals.
“It’s not known exactly why it happens in these ruffed lemurs, but certainly there could be genetic components to it, or there could be environmental components to it,” he said. “It’s pretty hard to say.”
In a statement the zoo said the condition is “generally fatal.”
Whiteside said the zoo will be looking at bringing in another black-and-white ruffed lemur, but said it could take time.
“It took us almost two years to get her lined up to come into our zoo. So it’s not something that would happen immediately.”