Curraghs Wildlife Park has received two critically endangered lemurs as part of a European breeding programme.

The Alaotran gentle lemurs are ‘settling into their new surroundings’, and visitors will be able to meet them at the site during the Easter holidays.

Gentle lemurs are small primates, covered in dense woolly fur, described by the late British conservationist Gerald Durrell as ‘honey-coloured teddy bears.’

Alaotran gentle lemurs are the only primates who live exclusively over water.

The species is currently threatened with extinction in the wild, with less than 2,500 thought to be left, mostly in a small region of their native Madagascar.

In the wild, they can only be found in the papyrus marshes that surround Madagascar’s Lake Alaotra.

According to conservation organisation the Durrell Trust, their native home is under threat due to illegal burning aimed at converting their habitat into rice plantations.

As a result, it is estimated they only have around 13,000 hectares of marsh left to live on. 

Bound for the Isle of Man, the lemurs arrived from Apenheul Primate Park in the Netherlands as part of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s (EAZA) programme, which sees member zoos work together to maintain ‘healthy populations of healthy animals’.

The Isle of Man Steam Packet assisted the park with the final leg of their journey from the UK.

EAZA are currently sourcing female partners for the two males, who are called Bam and Bacca.

Kathleen Graham, the Wildlife Park’s general manager, said: ‘We’re really pleased to have this amazing species back at the park, as it needs our help more than ever.

‘We are also excited to be involved in the breeding programme and collect data that can help the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT), who we support through our conservation fund to protect them in the wild.’

The Curraghs Wildlife Park is now open daily from 9.30am and 5pm.

Two special ‘Easter family fun’ days will also be held at the park on Thursday, April 4 and Friday, April 5, with additional games, crafts and face painting hosted by Crossroads.