Belfast Zoo

Not all snakes lay eggs! Belfast Zoo welcomes a host of new additions including six Madagascar tree boas and an endangered crowned lemur

Posted: 29th June, 2021

There has been a baby boom at Belfast Zoo as it welcomes a whole host of new arrivals in recent months.

The newborns include six Madagascar tree boas, five Fiji banded iguanas, a critically endangered bongo, a crowned lemur and a giraffe who was born on 13 May in view of hundreds of visitors.

Zoo Curator, Andrew Hope said, “It has been a busy few months here at the zoo, particularly in the Reptile House with the arrival of the boas and iguanas. Adult tree boas are green, but when they are born they are a beautiful shade of red. They are ovoviviparous which means they do not lay eggs. The female incubates them within its own body and the babies are born live, which a lot of people do not know. This is the first time we have bred these snakes since the female arrived in 2017.”

Andrew continues, “The arrival of the five Fiji banded iguanas is another first for us here at the zoo. A breeding pair arrived from Vienna Zoo and Augsburg Zoo back in 2018. They are an endangered lizard found on several of the Fiji islands and are bright blue and green in colour. The males are particularly striking with vertical blue and light green stripes covering their body and tail.”

Elsewhere in the zoo the team have welcomed several more newborns including an endangered crowned lemur.

Zoo Manager Alyn Cairns said, “The birth of every species at the zoo here is a joy, but the birth of an endangered species is always extra special. Lemur mothers keep their babies close to their body so we had to wait for a few weeks to go by before we could confirm that the latest arrival is a boy.”

Crowned lemurs are listed as endangered due to habitat loss, mining and logging. They are also hunted for food and the pet trade.

Crowned lemurs originate from the forests of northern Madagascar and get their names from the ‘crown’ marking above their eye line. Females are primarily grey with orange crowns and males are a darker red-brown with black and orange crowns.

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