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Welcome Haja and Olanna, rare blue-eyed black lemurs

Posted on: 21 November, 2023

Deep in the forests of Madagascar, over 100 species of lemur live up in the trees. Among the most Endangered is the blue-eyed black lemur, two of which you can now see at Bristol Zoo Project!

Two blue-eyed black lemurs on a tree branchOur new lemur pair, Haja, a four-year-old male, and Olanna, a nine-year-old female have moved to Bristol Zoo Project from their home at the former Bristol Zoo Gardens.

The pair have settled into their new home well, an area in the Madagascar exhibit, near the gentle lemurs and the walkthrough area where our mongoose, ruffed and ring-tailed lemurs live.

About blue-eyed black lemurs

Male blue-eyed black lemurs have the black fur that gives the species their name, while the females are reddish-fawn in colour. Both sexes have blue eyes — besides humans, lemurs are one of only a few primate species that have blue eyes.

The Critically Endangered lemur pair are among the 25 most threatened primate species in the world. This makes them an important part of our species plan, which focuses on keeping animals that are linked to Bristol Zoological Society’s conservation work around the world.


We’re hoping that Haja and Olanna will soon breed, bolstering the population of these rare lemurs. The pair’s keepers are currently ultrasound training female Haja, so she is used to the process if she does become pregnant. If keepers are able to perform ultrasound monitoring during animal pregnancies, they can identify complications, determine the number of young (lemurs sometimes have twins) and predict a due date. All of this increases the chance of a successful pregnancy and the survival of young. Black-eyed blue lemurs, like most true lemurs, are clever and keen to train.

Conservation work in Madagascar

Of the 107 lemur species that live in Madagascar, 103 are threatened, with 33 of them now classed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Madagascar is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, with a huge number of endemic species (species found only in one area or country). It’s also a country under huge pressure from people, who need land for farming and housing.

Madagascar is one of the 9 countries our Bristol Zoological Society conservationists work in, in partnership with other local organisations to protect and restore the forests and wild animals living there. Our projects include species monitoring, reforestation (earlier this year we successfully established 15,000 new trees) and working with local communities to encourage sustainable land use, and create jobs for local people through our conservation work.

Find out more about Bristol Zoological Society’s conservation work around the world here.

Love our lemurs?

A mongoose lemur hanging off a rope, hanging on with its back legs and one arm.

Visit them as often as you like with a Bristol Zoological Society membership, from just £42 a year. Membership includes access to seasonal events like the upcoming Festive Fables with Father Christmas and exclusive membership events. Learn more here.

Book your tickets to Bristol Zoo Project now — book the day before your visit or earlier for 10% off.

Bristol Zoo Project is part of Bristol Zoological Society, a conservation and education charity. Every visit supports our conservation work in the UK and around the world.