Blair Drummond Safari Park

Blog: Rua and the unbreakable bond between keepers and animals

Posted: 28th May, 2024

For Love Your Zoo week - Jamie-Leigh Green, Communications Manager at Blair Drummond Safari Park, on the heartwarming impact of one red ruffed lemur:

Meet Rua – the very first red ruffed lemur to be born right here at Blair Drummond Safari Park in 2016. Discovered early one morning by then Keeper Kristine, an unshakeable bond was formed between the two.  Born with bright blue eyes and a cheeky personality, Rua soon became a popular fixture in the park for the three years she lived with us.  After captivating our visitors with her playful antics and vibrant personality, Rua embarked on a new chapter of her life when she relocated to France in 2019 as part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme.

At Zoo de Champrépus, Rua found companionship with her mate Ruo, laying the foundation for a future generation of red ruffed lemurs. Last year, Rua became a mother for the first time, welcoming two precious babies into the world. This not only brought immense happiness to our team but also marked in an important step in lemur conservation efforts.  The birth of these infants holds significant importance as red ruffed lemurs are critically endangered out in the wild.

As mentioned, throughout Rua’s formative years here, she shared a special bond with our now Animal Collection Manager, Kristine. Kristine’s connection with Rua was so profound that she even bears a tattoo of Rua on her arm.

Over the years, Kristine has closely followed Rua’s journey by staying in touch with her current keepers.  In a touching tribute to their enduring bond, Kristine was recently given the honour of naming Rua’s offspring by the lemur team at Champrépus. Drawing inspiration from her Irish roots, Kristine chose the names Cillian and Caelan for the newborns.

Kristine explained more, ‘Rua was one in a million. To this day, she’s my favourite animal that I’ve ever worked with.  Cheeky, sweet and full of character.  I’m so proud to hear that she has turned out to be a wonderful mother and so honoured to be picked to name her babies.  It’s definitely the highlight of my year!’

And these little ones are not just adorable additions to the lemur family; they also represent a beacon of hope for their species. Destined to join a reintroduction program in Madagascar, Rua’s offspring symbolise the culmination of collaborative conservation efforts aimed at restoring lemur populations in their native habitat.

As we look to the future, we’re filled with excitement and optimism for Rua’s growing family. With each passing day, Cillian and Caelan will continue to thrive under the watchful care of Rua and their dedicated keepers, preparing for their eventual journey back to the wild.

Rua’s story serves as a reminder of the incredible impact that conservation efforts can have on endangered species. Through dedication and collaboration, we can pave the way for a brighter future for all creatures great and small. And as we continue to champion the cause of wildlife conservation, we take pride in knowing that we played a meaningful role in Cillian and Caelan’s remarkable journey back to the wild.  As such, we nominate Rua as our animal champion, not only for reminding us of the importance one link in a chain can hold, but also for demonstrating the incredibly strong bonds that can be formed between keeper and animal.

- Jamie-Leigh Green, Communications Manager at Blair Drummond Safari Park

All blogs reflect the views of their author and are not necessarily a reflection of BIAZA's positions

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