There are only eight AZA-accredited facilities that house the fewer than 60 endangered Coquerel’s Sifaka, while 17 AZA-accredited facilities house the fewer than 60 endangered Mongoose Lemurs in the U.S. To help preserve these vanishing species, the Sacramento Zoo takes part in Species Survival Plans® (SSP) initiated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), to cooperatively manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered species, populations in accredited institutions.
“Both births are significant at the Sacramento Zoo and to lemur populations” said Harrison Edell, General Curator. There are between 1,000 and 10,000 Mongoose Lemurs left and potentially less than 10,000 Coquerel’s Sifaka living in the wild.
Mongoose Lemur & Baby (Baby in bottom right corner)
Knowing that both lemurs were going to be first time moms and that their due dates were nearing, staff had been keeping an eye out for any significant changes in the mothers’ behavior. The sifaka mother and baby are bonding in their habitat across from the Conservation Carousel and the Mongoose Lemur baby can be seen on exhibit with its mother and father.
Both Coquerel’s Sifaka and Mongoose Lemurs are native only to the island of Madagascar off the southeastern coast of Africa, although the Mongoose Lemur was introduced to the Comoro Islands of Moheli and Anjouan roughly 200 years ago.
Newborn sifaka ride on their mother’s belly for the first month, then graduate to riding on her back. By two months of age, they have learned the basics of leaping. By about six months of age, they claim the treetops as their own. Young reach adult size at one year. Coquerel’s Sifaka are among the most endangered of the sifaka species – habitat loss due to deforestation is the leading threat. They have a unique brown and white coloration, and are distinguished from other lemurs by the way they move. They maintain a very upright posture. Using only their back legs, they leap through the treetops, easily leaping more than 20 feet in a single bound. On the ground they spring sideways off their back feet to cover distance.
All Mongoose Lemur infants are born with female coloration and; males, change coloration within six to eight months. The infant is carried around the mother’s waist and is weaned between five and seven months. Mongoose Lemurs tend to live in small groups of three to four consisting of a mature pair and their immature offspring. The Ankarafantsika Reserve is the only protected area in Madagascar for the Mongoose Lemur. It is under heavy pressure due to forest clearance for pasture, charcoal production and croplands.