Thursday 17 August 2017

Loveable lemur Pedro thriving on bear hugs and baby food

Patricia McDonagh

HE eats baby food, needs a night feed at 4am and can't sleep without his fluffy teddy.

But this isn't a human baby, this is Pedro the baby lemur, who needs round-the-clock care by staff at Coolwood Wildlife Park in Killarney, Co Kerry.

The tiny, white-fronted lemur was saved by workers after falling from a tree when he was just a week old.

He and his twin brother had been clinging on to their mother Lola's back when he suddenly let go and fell to the ground.

Hunting

Female lemurs will instinctively leave their child if it falls, because in the wild they are usually fleeing from bigger animals hunting them for food.

As a result, the four-inch, furry Pedro was left squeaking for help for at least half-an-hour until staff spotted him lying in a helpless state.

Since then, lemur carer Daisy Buckley has attempted to nurse Pedro back to health with teaspoons of baby rice and 40ml of baby milk each day.

"He is doing well, growing and putting on weight," said the manager of the family-run park, Liz Buckley.

"He is fed every four hours by Daisy and she brings him home every night in a pet carrier fitted with a heated mat. He wakes up at 4am looking for a feed, just like a real baby."

But despite the care Pedro is getting, he still misses his mother and in the wake of his trauma staff gave him a furry teddy to cling to.

"He has an owl teddy he clings to and won't go anywhere without. It is a replacement for his mother," said Liz.

"We needed to wash it last week and he was very upset and wouldn't sleep. In the end, we had to quickly put it in the dryer and give it back to him."

At just three weeks old, Pedro isn't as strong as his twin, who remains with his mother in the trees. However, it is hoped that he can be unleashed back into the lemur confinement when strong enough.

Until then, he has become a bit of a star at the park, with scores of schoolchildren wanting to take a peek at his cute fluff.

Unleashed

Lemurs use their white and black fur as camouflage in the shadowy forest trees. Black and white ruff lemurs, which are also found across Madagascar, often have different patterns of patches, making it difficult to spot them if they don't want to be seen.

Meanwhile, children from Scoil Mhic Easminn in Tralee yesterday squeaked delightedly when Pedro made his public debut.

"We carry him around everywhere we go, but we are only starting to show him to visitors now that he is strong enough," pointed out Liz.

"Children are mad about him. We all are."

Irish Independent

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