ATLANTA – May 16, 2019 – Just in time for Endangered Species Day, Zoo Atlanta celebrates the birth of a rare new arrival. An infant crowned lemur was born May 4, 2019, to parents Sava and Xonsu.
Female Sava, 5, and male Xonsu, 6, were recommended to pair by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP). They welcomed their first surviving offspring, daughter Sophie, on April 28, 2018.
Classified 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 imperiled 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; gold and sapphire mining; and illegal hunting.
“The birth of an endangered species is always a moment of celebration and hope,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation. “When the future of biodiversity is as uncertain as it is in places like Madagascar and so many other places around the world, cooperative programs like the SSP play a vital role in making sure that animal populations outside the wild maintain the health and genetic diversity that are crucial to these species’ viability in the long-term.”
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.
The newborn, whose sex is not yet known, may be spotted with its parents and sister Sophie in the Zoo’s Living Treehouse habitat, which is also home to ringtailed lemurs, another endangered species, and black-and-white-ruffed lemurs, a critically endangered species.
The crowned lemur is one of more than 60 species in the Zoo’s care that are classified as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable. Zoo Atlanta will highlight many of these species, the threats they face in the wild, and the simple lifestyle habits that can promote positive change for wildlife on Endangered Species Day on Friday, May 17. Special activities will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and are free with general admission; free for Zoo Atlanta Members and children under 3.
Plan a visit at zooatlanta.org. To learn about what you can do to preserve endangered species in wild places like Madagascar and around the world, or to find out more about conservation programs and partnerships supported by Zoo Atlanta, visit zooatlanta.org/conservation or download a copy of the 2018 conservation report Beyond the Zoo.
About Zoo Atlanta
A proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the gold standard for animal care and welfare, Zoo Atlanta has a mission to save wildlife and their habitats through conservation, research, education and engaging experiences. The Zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals representing more than 200 species from around the world, many of them endangered or critically endangered. Highlights include giant pandas, including Ya Lun and Xi Lun, the only giant panda twins in the U.S.; one of North America’s largest zoological populations of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Recent transformations include Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, home to more than 70 species in the world’s first LEED Gold-certified reptile and amphibian complex. Experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African lions, Aldabra giant tortoises, giant pandas and lemurs. Zoo Atlanta is open year-round with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper Talks, interactive wildlife presentations, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, visit zooatlanta.org.
Coming in summer 2019: the all-new African Savanna, featuring new and expanded habitats for African elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, warthogs and meerkats. The African Savanna is part of the Zoo’s landmark Grand New View transformation. Future elements include Savanna Hall, a state-of-the-art special event destination, and a new grand entry plaza, opening in early 2020. For more on the Zoo’s mission and conservation programs and partnerships, visit zooatlanta.org/conservation or download the 2018 conservation report, Beyond the Zoo.