The First Infant of the 2024 Baby Season!
On the morning of December 14, 2023, Lead Primate Technician Danielle Lynch arrived at the Duke Lemur Center and went to check on pregnant Coquerel’s sifaka Rodelinda, only to discover a fuzzy little surprise clinging to mom’s belly! Rodelinda, an experienced mom, had given birth overnight to a healthy male infant weighing 118 grams. Albus, parents Rodelinda and Johann, and older sister Egeria are now a family of four living together here at the DLC.
Like his older sister Egeria, who was named for a Roman consort, Albus gets his name from Ancient Rome. Albus, Latin for “white,” was a common Roman surname and the moniker for a Roman port city (Portus Albus, or “White Harbor”).
The Power of Positive Reinforcement
In 2006, the DLC established an animal training program to complement the center’s husbandry and research programs. Utilizing positive reinforcement training, the animal care staff began teaching the lemurs how to participate in their own health care and in non-invasive research. Today, behaviors such as voluntarily sitting on a scale or allowing a pregnancy check by a DLC veterinarian have become positive interactions with the animal care staff and help us provide the lemurs with the highest quality of care.
Danielle Lynch, the primary caretaker for the family of Coquerel’s sifakas, has been training Rodelinda on voluntary infant removal for the past few years. Rodelinda has learned to let Danielle gently remove her infant for weighings and wellness exams, in exchange for a peanut. This allows our veterinary team to perform examinations on Rodelinda’s infants with minimal stress to mom. Thanks to the trust built between lemur and caretaker, Danielle has been able to remove Albus from Rodelinda’s belly for routine wellness checks since the day he was born.
Caring for a Dynamic Family
Danielle has watched Rodelinda’s family adjust to the new infant since Albus’ birth. “Rodelinda is a seasoned mom and does a great job raising infants,” she says, “and Johann acted like a seasoned pro with Albus, since this is his second infant.”
While Rodelinda and Johann are no strangers to newborns, big sister Egeria has had a different experience. “Egeria is learning to be a big sister,” Danielle comments. “Egeria doesn’t quite understand yet that Albus isn’t ready to play, so she spends most of her time having huge play sessions with dad.”