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Endangered Lemur Found In Backyard Needs To Learn How To Be A Lemur

The ring-tailed lemur doesn't know how to interact with is his own species, zoo officials say.

Posted on February 29, 2016, at 3:38 p.m. ET

Mike Owyang / Sacramento Zoo / Via

An endangered lemur that was spotted in a backyard in Northern California is in good physical health, but zoo officials say he doesn't know how to interact with his own species.

The ring-tailed lemur, a non-human primate species found only on the Island of Madagascar, was captured in December after being spotted in Turlock.

Mike Owyang / Sacramento Zoo

The lemur was given a clean bill of health over the weekend after undergoing medical exams and a quarantine at the Sacramento Zoo, but finding a home for it will be challenging.

From his behavior, he clearly has not lived with other lemurs — a highly social species that lives in groups of up to 30 — and is most likely a product of the illegal pet trade, the zoo's supervisor of mammals, Leslie Field, wrote in a blog post:

Most non-human primates naturally live in complex social groups and need contact from their own kind for optimal psychological health. Living alone with a human family does not make for a mentally healthy non-human primate.

Non-human primates that are hand-reared and/or kept alone in human households often demonstrate abnormal levels of aggression. These animals are very challenging to get to cohabitate with an appropriate non-human companion because they have very few non-human primate social skills.

Since lemurs are so social, zoo officials will have to find a new home where he can learn some of the skills he was never taught, zoo spokesman Tonja Candelaria told the Sacramento Bee.

"He doesn’t understand normal lemur social skills,” Candelaria said. "We must find a place that knows how to help him learn those skills so that he can live with a troop of other lemurs."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.