Durrell says farewell to Fali the gentle lemur

It is with great sadness that Durrell announces the death of our oldest gentle lemur, Fali.

At the respectable age of 26 years, Fali was the last surviving animal from a group of 10 gentle lemurs, which were brought to Jersey from Madagascar by Gerald and Lee Durrell. This group was the start of the European breeding programme, which Durrell still coordinates to this day. The group arrived at the zoo on the 18th of November 1990 and according to Lee’s notes, Fali weighed just 545 grams when he arrived and was only a few months old.

In 1992, Fali was paired up with female Andila and 6 years later the couple moved into the large valley enclosure at the zoo. Over the years, Fali fathered 17 offspring and was responsible for 79 descendants. At Durrell we are hugely grateful to Fali for his unrivalled contribution to the breeding programme.

“It seems only yesterday that Gerry and I were at Lake Alaotra, tracking down bandro (the Malagasy name for the gentle lemur) for the breeding programme back in Jersey” says Lee Durrell. “In fact our expedition to Madagascar happened more than a quarter of a century ago! But I well remember the youngster Fali escaping from his travelling crate and climbing the curtains in our hotel room where we kept all the bandro before their long journey to Jersey. Rest in peace, dear Fali, and thank you for what you have done for your species.”

Fali’s life has been incredibly important, not just for Durrell, but for the entire species. Much of our knowledge about gentle lemurs has come from Fali and his offspring. Until now, no one has been able to confirm how long a gentle lemur lives because Fali was the oldest individual from Madagascar! Both keepers and visitors loved to watch Fali as he jumped between the reeds at Lemur Lake and explored the trees of Kirindy Forest. He will be sadly missed.