Meet Our “Precious” Newest Additions!

One-month-old ring-tailed lemur twins clinging to adult's back

One-month-old Meriadoc “Merry” (left) and Eowyn (right) cling to mother Sierra Mist’s back. Photo by David Haring.

At 6:30 AM on March 19, 2024, the Duke Lemur Center’s husbandry staff checked on ring-tailed lemur mom Sierra Mist and discovered that she had just given birth! The twins, born at a healthy 66 grams (male) and 82 grams (female), are the first pair of ring-tailed lemur twins born at the DLC since 2016. They join parents Sierra Mist and Licinius, along with their two older siblings, in this family of six.

Eowyn and Merry, in the tradition of our ring-tailed lemurs, are named after literary characters. These precious infants get their names from J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved Lord of the Rings series. Eowyn (EH-oh-win), the female, is named after the shieldmaiden who disguised herself as a man to ride into battle at Minas Tirith. Merry, the male, shares his name with Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck, a hobbit who was part of the subtitular Fellowship of the Ring and rode into battle with Eowyn. The family’s primary caretaker, Becca Newton, was inspired by the size difference between the larger female and much smaller male infants when selecting their names.

Ring-tailed lemur mother sitting on shelf with tongue sticking out, infants nursing

Eowyn and Merry, three weeks old, nursing on mom Sierra Mist. Photo by David Haring.

Infant ring-tailed lemur clinging to mom's shoulder

Despite being named after a hobbit, one-month-old Merry looks more like an elf with those ears! Photo by David Haring.

Older sister Scout, who just recently turned three years old, has been very involved in helping mom raise the twins. She spends almost all of her time cuddled up with Sierra Mist and the infants, and Becca has frequently seen Scout carrying and grooming her little siblings. Her maternal instincts and fascination with Eowyn and Merry are signs that Scout has learned a lot from Sierra Mist and will make a great mother in the future.

At two months old, the twins are starting to explore off of mom’s back! Eowyn and Merry spend lots of time wrestling with one another and jumping between branches and beams in their enclosure. While they’re still nursing, both infants have been spotted stealing bites of solid food from their family members. Early favorite snacks include cantaloupe for Eowyn and strawberries for Merry!

Two infant ring-tailed lemurs cling to mom's back. Older juvenile lemur, sitting behind mom, grooms the neck of one of the infants.

Three-year-old Scout grooming her little sister, one-month-old Eowyn. Photo by David Haring.