Denver Zoo Map
May 18, 2017


Visitors can see new arrival now at Zoo’s Emerald Forest Building

Denver Zoo is proud to announce the birth and public debut of Penny, a female, red ruffed lemur. She was born on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 25, to mother Sixpence, and father Mego (MAY-goh). Until this week, Penny had been spending time behind the scenes bonding with her mother. Zookeepers say Penny is doing well and visitors can see her now at the Zoo’s Emerald Forest building.

This is the second birth for both parents, after they welcomed quadruplets in 2011. Sixpence was born at Denver Zoo in June 1998. Mego was born at the San Diego Zoo in April 2004 and came to Denver Zoo from there in April 2008. The two were paired together under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.

As their names indicate, red ruffed lemurs are mostly covered with red fur, except for their black faces, feet and tails and white patches on the back of their necks. Adults’ bodies can grow to about 3 feet long, but their tails, which provide crucial balance in trees, can stretch more than three feet on their own. They are thought to be called “ruffed” because of the tufts of fur around their necks. These resemble ruffs, or large, ruffled collars worn by European men and women in the late 1500s and early 1600s.

Exact red ruffed lemur population numbers in the wild aren’t known, but the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies them as endangered. Their numbers are thought to be dwindling, mostly due to habitat destruction, and their range has been reduced to a small area in Northeastern Madagascar.

Young red ruffed lemurs do not cling to their mothers like many other primates. Instead their mother will typically carry them around with her mouth, one at a time, almost like a dog or cat. Their groups are matriarchal.