Forgive Elagabalus – make that Gabe – he’s been a little shy.
The first picture of the 10-week-old Coquerel’s sifaka at the Duke Lemur Center was released Thursday and he’s doing very well, spokeswoman Sara Clark said.
“He was a healthy infant, maybe on the lighter side but nothing extreme,” Clark said.
“He has been a pretty camera shy,” she added. “We waited to release [his picture] until we got a good photo of his face.”
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Gabe was born Dec. 23. He is the first infant lemur of the birthing season, which begins in December. There were 16 lemurs born at the center during the 2016-17 birthing season, which is about average Clark said.
The first few weeks, Gabe and him mom, Pia, were isolated from the rest of the lemurs. But since then, they’ve been re-integrated into the clan. Pontius, Gabe’s dad, sang with joy upon being reunited with them, Clark said.
“We watched the interactions to make sure everything was good and he was accepted back into the family,” Clark said. “The fun thing was that Dad got to groom the infant a little bit on that first meeting.”
A few days later older sister Gertrude got introduced to her baby brother.
“It’s just really sweet to see the family reunited,” Clark said. “We have to make sure the family dynamics are there, and now they are living together 24/7. They get along really well. In fact, the novelty of the baby has started to wear off.”
Gabe has been clinging to mom since birth, Clark said.
“When they’re very young, they are on their mom’s belly and cling to her there,” Clark said. “They then gradually move on to her back as they get older. So now he’s moved to the back off the belly and he’s quite a bit more visible. He doesn’t hide in mom’s fur anymore.”
Jovian, a Coquerel’s sifaka that lived at the center, became famous as “Zoboomafoo,” star of the PBS Kids show by the same name. The show aired 65 episodes from 1999 to 2001 and continues in syndication. Jovian, who sired 12 offspring, died in 2014 at age 20.
Gabe’s family is one of the free-range lemur families that live in one of the center’s natural habitat enclosures off Erwin Road. In all, there are 224 animals at the center.
“It’s conceivable that you could see Gabe and his mom out in the woods,” Clark said. “If they are free-ranging in spring and summer when it starts to warm up and we are hosting walking tours, they might be one of the groups you can see but you can never guarantee it.”