Away from the gaze of visitors, the spacious moated-enclosures with adequate play material and minimal intervention from animal keepers provide a natural ambience for seven lion-tailed macaques (LTMs).
These are the two new enclosures, each measuring 700 sq.ft, specially created at the Vandalur Zoo, a well known LTM breeding centre. These macaques, a critically endangered species of monkey, are found only in the Western Ghats in the south.
A total of seven LTMs, including five females, have been handpicked and separated from their troop and released into the new enclosure for breeding, said K.S.S.V.P. Reddy, Chief Conservator of Forests and Zoo Director. “The lineage, compatibility and general maturity of the LTMs were identified and they were then separated from the troop and housed in the new enclosure.”
The main objective of keeping the seven LTMs away from the visitors is to relocate them in the wild.
Once the seven start breeding, they will not have any physical connection with the humans.
The well-ventilated enclosures have been provided with poles, ropes, ladders and swings for the animals to enjoy their stay.
Apart from providing play material, the zoo authorities have planted saplings of jack fruit, guava and cherries. These fruit-bearing trees will provide the required food for the LTMs, Mr. Reddy said. From captivity, the next step before relocating them in the wild would be breeding LTMs in offsite enclosures. Once this population breeds and a viable troop is formed, they would be relocated in the wild. For relocation, the zoo authorities would identify habitats in the Western Ghats.