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Because they're endangered, all baby lemurs are special. But some, like Ranomasina, are extraordinary.
"This is not just any baby," says Bobby Schopler, a veterinarian at the Duke Lemur Center since 2005. "This is the most important birth in the 13 years I've worked here."
Baby - Ranomasina - Lemur—one - Primates - World—born
Baby Ranomasina is the third blue-eyed black lemur—one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world—born at the center this season, which brings the total number of her kind in North America to 34. But she is also considered among the most "genetically valuable," since she is the offspring of the first lemurs imported from Madagascar to the U.S. in 24 years.
Ranomasina is also unusual because she was delivered via cesarean section, a surgery so rare that since the Duke Lemur Center's founding in 1966, C-sections have been performed only 15 times.
Offspring - Lemur - Species - Schopler - Pair
"She's the most important offspring from one of the rarest lemur species," Schopler said. "She was born to a pair that took us three years to bring to Durham from Madagascar, and we may never be able to import anymore."
In fact, Ranomasina is genetically so valuable to the population of these critically endangered lemurs that when she was discovered in breech position, veterinarians resolved to perform a rare C-section rather than risk a difficult—and potentially fatal—birth.
Infant - Name - Sea - Malagasy - Offspring
The infant, whose name means "sea" in Malagasy, is the first offspring of Mangamaso and Velona, blue-eyed black lemurs brought from Madagascar to the Duke Lemur Center in 2017.
Until Ranomasina's birth, every blue-eyed black lemur infant born in North America had descended from just seven wild-born individuals imported by the Duke Lemur Center in 1985 and 1990.
Birth - Ranomasina - Time - Lineage - Lemurs
"With the birth of Ranomasina, for the first time since 1990, we have a whole new lineage of blue-eyed black lemurs coming into the North American population," said Cathy Williams, curator of animals at...
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