First twin red-bellied lemurs born at Chester Zoo

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Adorable twin red-bellied lemurs - a species listed as vulnerable to extinction - have been born at Chester Zoo.

Zookeepers spotted the fluffy duo nestled in mum Aina's (4) thick fur just moments after their birth. The tiny primates currently weigh just 70 grams each and will spend the first few months of life clinging to mum and riding around on her back, before gaining in confidence to branch off and explore on their own.

Red-bellied lemurs are one of the world's rarest primates, with their numbers having declined by more than 30 per cent in recent years. An international conservation-breeding programme involving some of the world's leading zoos is now playing a vital role in the efforts to secure the species' future.

Jessamine Smith, Primate Keeper at Chester Zoo, said: "The birth of any red-bellied lemur is always a real boost for the conservation breeding programme, but to have twins born for the very first time at the zoo is incredibly special.

"Red-bellied lemurs are one of the few lemur species that form a monogamous couple, meaning that they pair up for life and live in a small family troop of mum, dad and their offspring. So far mum Aina and dad Frej are both doing a wonderful of job of caring for their new babies - they can often be seen snuggled up in mum's fur and clinging tightly to her as she leaps from tree to tree."

Mark Brayshaw, Curator of Mammals at the zoo, added: "Red-bellied lemurs are sadly undergoing a sharp decline in Madagascar meaning the safety net population found in leading zoos around the world is becoming ever more important.

"The arrival of these two new babies will help us continue to play a vital role in ensuring the species has a future."

The new lemur twins can be found in the zoo's walkthrough Madagascar lemur habitat, giving nature lovers the opportunity to walk among rare lemurs, while educating visitors on the work the zoo is carrying out in Madagascar.

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