Meet our newest sanctuary resident, Zoe the ring-tailed lemur! Zoe's story is nearly identical to our other lemur, Lenny. Both Zoe and Lenny were bred and sold by an exotic animal dealer located right here in the Ozarks. Once being sold into the pet trade, they were sold over and over to different owners that were unprepared to properly care for them. Zoe was in extremely bad condition when her last owner decided to place her at National Tiger Sanctuary to live out her life. She had suffered from years of a bad diet, including table food and candy. (Lemurs need a diet consisting of specially formulated primate biscuits and fresh fruits and vegetables.) The inadequate diet Zoe was forced to live on left her very thin and ragged.
Since her arrival, we have been working hard to help Zoe get well. She is eating five meals per day - more than double what Lenny the lemur eats! We built her an introductory habitat where she can climb, jump, and exercise freely, and she is definitely a little busy body! Our efforts are paying off everyday as we see her condition improving. She has been steadily gaining weight and muscle mass, and her hair is looking much healthier.
The next exciting step in Zoe's future is meeting Lenny! As ring-tailed lemurs are social in the wild, we hope that Zoe and Lenny will be able to live together and provide much-needed companionship. (Lenny is neutered so luckily we don't have to take any steps to prevent them from reproducing.) Right now, Zoe and Lenny can see each other from across the room and have taken an interest in each other. We hope that soon they will be ready to be introduced and will find a lifelong friend in each other!
Although Zoe's story has a happy ending, many exotic animals in the pet trade aren't so lucky.
Sadly, exotic animal breeders often sell animals to anyone willing to pay, even if they don't have the
knowledge, license, habitat, etc. Once the new owner acquires the animal, it doesn't take long for them to learn that exotic animals do not make good pets. As a result, the animal is sold to owner after owner and often endures severely inadequate housing, diet, and overall care. From chameleons to lemurs to big cats, many die at the hands of irresponsible breeders and owners.
National Tiger Sanctuary has been working for years to improve regulations on exotic animal ownership and raise awareness about the exotic animal trade. Our work on the Large Carnivore Act enacted the first regulations on big cat ownership in the state of Missouri. We are continuing to work on legislation that will ensure exotic animals receive the care they need and deserve.