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Lemurs, Aardvarks, and Birds - Oh My! New Additions to Henry Vilas Zoo Family Available for Visits This Weekend

November 08, 2013
Casey Slaughter Becker, County Executive's Office (608) 267-8823, or cell (608) 843-8858; Jeff Halter, Deputy Zoo Director (608) 515-8805
County Executive


The Henry Vilas Zoo is welcoming a number of new species including lemurs, aardvarks, and birds that families can visit indoors during Wisconsin’s colder months, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.


“Even when the temperature drops outside, our free zoo is open and offers many indoor exhibits for families to enjoy,” said Parisi.  “Our new lemurs, aardvarks, and colorful birds are living indoors and ready for a visit this weekend.”


The zoo’s new group of ring-tailed lemurs can be found in the Primate Building.  Lemurs hail from Madagascar and are threatened in the wild due primarily to the loss of their forest home. By providing a home for the primates, Henry Vilas Zoo is helping the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Ring-Tailed Lemur Species Survival Plan (SSP) populate animals and contribute to the preservation of the species in North American zoos.


The aardvark can be seen in the zoo’s new Animal Health Center in its temporary quarantine housing until it is ready to move into its permanent zoo home.  Aardvarks are solitary, nocturnal animals from Africa that are great at digging.  They eat ants and termites that they dig up with their long tongues. Aardvarks are known to burrow underground for safety and shelter.


Several beautiful new bird species can also be seen in the zoo’s Aviary Building, or on camera in their quarantine housing in the Animal Health Center.  A red-crested cardinal, red and yellow barbets, a yellow-rumped cacique, and a red vented bul bul are all new to the zoo.


“It’s exciting to have so many new things happening at the zoo –  from Arctic Passage to acquiring new animals,” said Henry Vilas Zoo Director Ronda Schwetz.  “These new animals give us the opportunity to share their amazing lives and stories while adding to the experience that guests have at the zoo.”


One more reason to visit the zoo this weekend is that it is the last full weekend of carousel and concessions operations (November 9th and 10th). Special winter dates for the carousel can be found online at


Guests can visit the Henry Vilas Zoo animal family 365 days a year from 9:30am to 5pm, with modified hours for the holidays.  The public can also keep up to date on everything new at the on the zoo’s Facebook page at