Nashville/ Parks & Nature
AI Assisted Icon
Published on April 17, 2024
Nashville Zoo Celebrates Arrival of Helios, A Tiny Leap for Red Ruffed Lemur ConservationSource: Nashville Zoo

The Nashville Zoo has added a tiny, but significantly mighty, member to its menagerie. Meet Helios, a red ruffed lemur who tipped the scales at a mere 1/4 pound when he was born on March 27 to proud lemur parents Phoebe and Emilio. This newborn is a big deal, as his species is teetering on the edge of extinction. According to the WSMV, the zoo states that each birth is a critical leap toward the survival of the red ruffed lemur.

Sporting a moniker fit for a sun king, Helios was named after the Greek god of the sun, a nod to his daylight arrival in a species that usually welcomes new members under the cover of darkness. Reportedly, his name also pays homage to the lemur's distinct white facial markings. But don't expect a royal parade just yet; the fuzzball will hang back in his habitat with his mom until he bulks up a bit more for the outdoor lemur digs, as detailed in a statement obtained by WKRN.

Helios is the second successful birth of its kind at the zoo within a year and joins an exclusive club of five red ruffed lemurs residing there. Brittany Canfield, the zoo's primate supervisor, shared with Visit Music City that the lemurs at their facility each bear Greek-inspired names, adding a dash of classical flair to their conservation efforts.

These lemurs aren't just a pretty (and endangered) face; their presence represents the broader mission of the Nashville Zoo's participation in the Red Ruffed Lemur Species Survival Plan®. The zoo is also not just about breeding; it puts its money where its mouth is by donating to Madagascar's SAVA Conservation Project. This initiative aims to tackle habitat loss – a notable threat to the species – by educating local communities on the need to preserve Madagascar's unique biodiversity. "Red ruffed lemurs are typically born at night, but Helios was born during the day with lots of white markings around his face," Canfield remarked in an explanation about the choice of the newborn lemur's name.