The Land of the Lemurs is one of the new habitats in the huge redevelopment underway at Monarto Safari Park. Here visitors can walk amongst the lemurs as they spend their day lazing around, grooming and showing off their impressive tails. Learn a little about the lemurs, and what you can expect when you visit them.
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TL;DR? Here's the outline
Have you heard about Monarto Safari Park?
Monarto Safari Park is located on the traditional lands of the Ngarrindjeri people.
Located about an hour out of the Adelaide city centre, the Monarto Safari Park is a huge open-range zoo dedicated to education and conservation. You won’t be finding any small cages here, the animals live in large enclosures.
Many of the 500 animals are endangered – some are even extinct in the wild – and the breeding programs here play an important role in the survival of the species.
Monarto is open every day of the year, and they are a great idea for special occasions. Imagine spending Christmas Day doing one of their incredible animal experiences – like visiting the Land of the Lemurs.
I’m not going to go into too much detail on Monarto Safari Park here, there is a whole other blog post dedicated to all the details.
Ring-tailed lemurs are a fascinating species.
Are there lemurs in Australia? More than once I have been asked this, and I am happy to report, that while they are not native, there are lemurs in Australia – in our zoos and wildlife parks.
Ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) are just one of 111 different varieties of lemur, a species of primate that is native to the island of Madagascar.
They are easily recognisable by their distinctive long, black and white striped tails, which can grow up to 2 feet in length.
Ring-tailed lemurs are arboreal, spending most of their time in trees. They are also diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and rest at night.
They are social animals, living in groups called troops, which can number up to 30 individuals.
These lemurs are herbivorous, feeding on a variety of fruits, leaves, flowers, and bark. Their specialised digestive system allows them to digest tough plant materials, including tannins and cellulose.
Ring-tailed lemurs are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as hunting and capture for the pet trade.
Conservation efforts, such as protected areas and captive breeding programs, are being implemented to help preserve this species.
Ring-tailed lemurs are quite well-known thanks to the animated movie “Madagascar.” The movie features a group of lemurs, led by the character King Julien, who love to party and dance.
While the movie takes some creative liberties with the behaviour of lemurs (in reality, they are not typically party animals), it does draw attention to the unique and fascinating wildlife found on the island of Madagascar.
The movie also helped raise awareness about conservation issues facing lemurs and their habitat in Madagascar.
The Monarto Safari Park Lemurs
There are about thirty lemurs here at Monarto, forming three different troops – or, officially – conspiracies of lemurs. Only one of the troops currently inhabits the enclosure where visitors come to see them. This is a troop of sixteen.
Unlike the lemurs of “Madagascar”, there is no King Julien here. Lemurs have a matriarchal society, with each troop having a female leader.
A lemur called Spindles runs the show here, and the male of the group is Hendrix. The rest are adult females, juveniles and young, including two babies from last year.
Ring-tailed lemurs all have the same number of ‘rings’ on their tails, and they are identified by different facial markings.
Hendrix though, is easy to pick out from the bunch because he had an accident years ago and the tip of his tail had to be amputated, leaving him with a tail ending in white fur, not black like all the others.
Visiting the Land of the Lemurs
The Land of the Lemurs is an add-on experience for Monarto Safari Park visitors. It is offered at 10:15 am on Monday & Thursday, and twice, at 10:15 am & 11:35 am, on Saturday, Sunday, public holidays and school holidays.
Entry to Monarto is not included with a booking for The Land of the Lemurs, you will need to purchase that separately.
The groups are kept small, with only fifteen participants, but all ages can join in on the one-hour experience. It is best to book in advance, but you can always enquire on arrival if there is any availability.
On arrival at Monarto Safari Park, check in at the circular information booth near the entrance, and you will be given instructions on where to meet your guide.
It will be in one of the designated areas in the middle of the Visitor Information Centre.
Your guide will usher your group onto a nearby small bus for the drive to the Land of the Lemurs.
It took us about 10-15 minutes to get there, and during this time we learnt about lemurs in general, such as where they came from, and different interesting facts.
We were also given a briefing about the rules we would need to follow, particularly the hygiene protocols required.
As we left the bus we would be asked to sanitise our hands, and we would be walking through a disinfectant station (basically walking over some very wet mats) to ensure the bottom of our shoes were clean too.
One of the lemur keepers joined us as we made our way into the enclosure. The lemurs have about 3.5 hectares to play in, but we were lucky to find them just inside the gate, playing in the trees and sunning themselves on the grass.
As we stayed on the path, the lemurs casually wandered straight through our group, weaving around our legs.
The keepers talked about what we were seeing, pointed out particular lemurs and behaviours and answered all the questions we had.
While the lemurs mostly just “hung around” during our Monarto lemur experience, we could see there were additions to the habitat that were both decorative and utilitarian.
For example, there was a model of a crashed plane the lemurs could use to climb over and for shelter, and there were other shelters and platforms decorated like little jungle huts. There are plenty of trees for them and lots of space.
After about twenty minutes with the lemurs, we approached an area created by a small fence, perhaps 50cm high.
We learned that this fence had been made by volunteers who painstakingly cut down the leftover sticks from the giraffe’s browse to size and stacked them side by side. Recycling at its best.
This small fence kept the tortoises from wandering too far from the Tortoise Research Centre. We got to see three different species of tortoise here.
The Aldabco and Radiated tortoises were happily exploring their enclosure, but we had to peek through the windows of the research facility to see the Leopard tortoise.
The highlight of the tortoise visit was, strangely, scratching the shell of one of them. I could not believe it when the tortoise showed he was clearly enjoying it, pushing back kind of like a cat does.
I had never considered that a tortoise shell has feeling, but yes, clearly it does.
We returned to the lemurs to spend a few more minutes observing their antics before sadly saying goodbye and returning to the bus. Our time with the lemurs was over, and it had been a fun hour with these captivating critters.
More Monarto Safari Park Adventures
After your Land of the Lemurs visit, you have the rest of the day to explore Monarto Safari Park further.
There is always so much going on around the park, from keeper talks, the ZuLoop bus, hikes, playgrounds, and two cafes – you will easily fill your day so do plan to spend it here.
You could even consider one of the other experiences – like the incredible Lions 360, where you are in the cage!
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