The Smithsonian's National Zoo brought in two friendly new faces that made their first public appearances in July. In May, collared lemur brothers Bentley and Beemer were acquired from the Bronx Zoo and recently begun a new training program at the zoo.

The three-year-old brothers are very sweet-natured and have quickly warmed up to the zoo's keepers. Their diets consist of mixed nuts, acorn squash, vegetables, and dried fruits. While Bentley is keener on exploring their new habitat, Beemer seems especially fond of food and frequently stays behind to enjoy a delicious meal.

There are several lemur species, and the zoo is now home to six lemurs of three different species. Beemer and Bentley were slowly introduced to the zoo's other four lemurs as the brothers began to share the same habitat.

What Do Collared Lemurs Look Like?

As adults, collared lemurs are around the size of a large house cat. They typically weigh around 5.5 pounds once they are fully grown. Their distinguished coats are different based on their sex. Female collared lemurs typically have gray faces, reddish-brown coats, and distinctive reddish-brown beards. Like Bentley and Beemer, male lemurs are brownish-gray with a lighter underside, dark-colored tails, a dark stripe down their back, and cream-colored to reddish-brown beards.

Where do Lemurs Live?

Collared lemurs are only naturally found in southeast Madagascar. These lemurs live in montane forests and moist tropical lowlands. They are essential to the forests they live in as they are a critical seed disperser species. That means that these lemurs play a crucial role in plant fitness and survival throughout their environments.

Are Lemurs Endangered?

Collared lemurs are an endangered species. It's estimated that only between 5,000 and 9,500 of these lemurs live in their natural Madagascar habitats. Unfortunately, this endangered status is shared among most species of lemurs. There are over 100 lemur species, and most of those species are critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable. Recently, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimated that over 98 percent of these beautiful animals will face extinction in the wild within the next 20 years.

Lemurs are primarily endangered due to habitat loss from deforestation for charcoal and agriculture production. However, collared lemurs are frequently hunted for food and captured to be used as exotic pets.

Fun Collared Lemur Facts

There are many interesting, fun lemur facts, including:

  • Most species of lemur have a female-dominant society.

  • Lemurs play a significant role in local folklore. For example, many Malagasy people believe that the spirits of their ancestors reside within lemurs.

  • Aside from humans, lemurs are the only primate species that can have blue eyes.

  • Lemurs are the oldest living primates in the world

When to See Bentley and Beemer at the Zoo

Brothers Bentley and Beemer can be visited at the Lemur Island at the Smithsonian National Zoo. The pair is most active between 8 AM and 2 PM on good weather days. However, Bentley and Beemer are still getting used to their new environment. They don't often venture too far into their new home. Bentley and Beemer are commonly spotted near the keeper's door.

End Your Trip to the Zoo with Delicious Italian Food

Be sure to stop by Lemur Island on your next trip to the Smithsonian National Zoo to see Beemer, Bentley, and their lemur friends.

After seeing these beautiful collared lemurs, stop by LiLLiES Restaurant and Bar to enjoy delicious Italian cuisine. Bring your zoo pass to get an extra ten percent off of your meal.

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August was an important month for the Smithsonian National Zoo as giant panda Xiao Qi Ji celebrated his first birthday. In honor of the momentous occasion, the zoo’s family of giant pandas partook in fruitsicle cake decorated with apples, carrots, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, bamboo, pears, and bananas.

Xiao Qi Ji was born on August 21st, 2020, to mother Mei Xiang and father Tian Tian. The panda birth was hailed as a triumph for this vulnerable species, and his name, translated into “Little Miracle” in Mandarin Chinese, reflected that feat.

In just three months, Xiao Qi Ji took his very first steps as he continued to grow into what would be a healthy giant panda. The public tuned in to live broadcasts of the young cub and, on May 21st, visitors flocked to see the national zoo pandas as he made his first public appearance.

A Closer Look at the Giant Panda Species

Giant panda bears are native to South Central China and primarily live in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu. These bears are known for their bold black-and-white coats and diet that consists almost exclusively of bamboo. The giant panda is born as the smallest baby of any placental mammal and weighs between 90 and 130 grams. It is born toothless, blind, and pink.

A giant panda birth is rare in both the wild and captivity. Due to its low birthrate, excessive poaching, and habitat loss, these bears are vulnerable species. In 1976, it was estimated that there were only about 1,000 panda bears in the wild.

Conservation efforts for these beautiful bears officially began in 1963 when the PRC government created the Wolong National Nature Reserve to save the declining panda population. However, it wasn’t until the 1990s that several laws were passed to protect them, including removing humans from their reserves and gun control laws.

Today, it’s estimated that the economic upkeep costs of pandas are five times more than elephants, the next most expensive animal.

Are Pandas Endangered?

Giant pandas were first considered an endangered species in the 1990s. Since then, renewed conservation efforts have helped boost the number of this beloved species. In 2016, the panda bear achieved a small victory when the IUCN removed the bears from its endangered species list. With a wild population of up to 1,800 giant pandas, the Chinese government followed that declaration in 2021.

While still considered a vulnerable species, the panda bear is making a comeback after all of the conservation efforts to save them from extinction.

Enjoy Delicious Italian Food After Your Trip to the Zoo

The celebration of Xiao Qi Ji’s first birthday has brought even more visitors to the giant panda exhibit in the Smithsonian National Zoo. Members of the zoo gain exclusive access to the panda yard and indoor panda house viewing areas in the morning every day throughout the summer. The public can also view the Giant Panda Camsonline to watch this special family go about their day.

After your trip to see the giant pandas at the Smithsonian Zoo, you can stop by the LiLLies Restaurant and Bar for some exceptional Italian cuisine. Don’t forget to bring your zoo pass to get 10 percent off your meal.

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What better way to spend the day with your family or loved ones than at the Zoo? The Zoo is a wonderful place to spend a fun day and enjoy all the beautiful animals! The Smithsonian’s National Zoo has a huge variety of gorgeous, exotic, wild animals all to observe and really enjoy. It is a place to learn about wild exotic animals, observe their beauty and behavior, and just have fun!

It is a great way to teach children about wild animals that they cannot see in person aside from going to a Z00 to see them. Children can often discover a favorite animal of theirs just by these trips. A panda is often a favorite animal for children due to their adorable, yet simple features.

After a long day at the Zoo, it will definitely work up an appetite. LiLLiES restaurant is fairly close to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, it is walking distance. It is the perfect location and they have an amazing menu filled with the most delicious food, perfect for everyone!

This particular restaurant has delicious Italian food and they also have panda pancakes! Every child would love that especially after a fun day at the Zoo! Even adults, it is a fun style food, simple, and packed full of flavor! So why not plan an astounding day out at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo that is packed with delicious food right after?

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