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Zoo Atlanta celebrates the birth of a newborn member of an endangered species. An infant crowned lemur was born April 12, 2021, to parents Sava and Xonsu.
Female Sava and male Xonsu, both 7 years old, were recommended to pair by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) and are experienced parents. The infant is their third surviving offspring.
Listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), crowned lemurs are found on the northernmost tip of Madagascar – the only place on Earth where the more than 100 known species of lemur are found. One of the planet’s richest hotspots of biodiversity, Madagascar is also home to some of Earth’s most threatened wildlife. Like all lemurs, crowned lemurs face pressing threats from habitat loss and habitat fragmentation as a result of slash-and-burn agriculture; charcoal production; and mining for gold and sapphires. Lemurs are also captured for the pet trade, despite the fact that, like all primates, they are not suitable pets.
“The birth of every newborn animal at the Zoo is cause for celebration, but the birth of an endangered species is always a new occasion for hope,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation. “When we look at the status of wildlife and wild habitats around the world, places like Madagascar show us just how delicate the balance of biodiversity is on our planet. Cooperative programs like SSPs are in place to ensure that animal populations outside these imperiled wild environments continue to maintain the health and genetic diversity they will need to exist for future generations.”
The infant may be spotted with its parents and older brother Chewie in The Living Treehouse, which is also home to ringtailed lemurs, another endangered species, and black-and-white-ruffed lemurs, a critically endangered species. Sava is currently keeping the infant very close to her body, but as the weeks go by, the infant’s developing coloration will be the primary indicator of whether it is male or female. Females are primarily gray with orange crowns, while males are a darker red-brown in color, with black and orange crowns.
The crowned lemur is one of hundreds of species with zoological populations safeguarded by SSP programs in AZA-accredited organizations in North America. Zoo Atlanta is an active member of many SSPs, which exist to ensure that zoological populations remain healthy, genetically diverse, and self-sustaining for future generations.
Zoo Atlanta is open daily with new protocols and procedures in place to promote wellness, including timed ticketing; hand-sanitizing stations throughout grounds; and signage and other aids to encourage social distancing. Masks are required for ages 2 and up for general admission and all in-Zoo experiences. Learn more or plan a visit at zooatlanta.org.
(Photo by Kathryn Grace)