The Sacramento Zoo welcomes its newest resident and the first baby born in 2014: an infant Coquerel’s Sifaka (Pronounced CAHK-ker-rells she-FAHK). This lemur baby was discovered by primate keepers on the morning of Sunday, January 5th. The male weighed nearly 4.3 ounces Thus far, he is showing resilient health as mother, father and infant continue to bond.
Coquerel’s Sifaka are native only to a small area of northwestern Madagascar. They are an endangered species with potentially less than 10,000 living in the wild as deforestation threatens their habitat. There are fewer than 60 living within the U.S. Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) accredited facilities. The Sacramento Zoo is one of only nine such facilities that house these remarkable creatures. Of course, this makes the new birth all the more special!
The Sacramento Zoo participates in Species Survival Plans® (SSP) initiated by the AZA. These plans work to cooperatively manage specific population of typically threatened or endangered species in accredited institutions. While not only cute, as part of the SSP, this new baby will help to preserve the vanishing species.
All sifaka species have arms, hips, hands, and feet specially adapted for vertical clinging and leaping; however Coquerel’s Sifaka, with their unique reddish-brown with white coloration, are distinguished from other lemurs by the way they move. Their legs are extremely long relative to body and arm length. Using their powerful back legs, they travel through the forest jumping from one upright tree limb to another, easily leaping more than 20 feet in a single bound. On the ground they cannot run on all fours because of their long legs so they travel with a unique sideways spring. Such movements do not hinder mom. She moves and leaps with ease as the baby clings to her.
You can see the baby by visiting the Zoo and stopping by their exhibit, located across from the Conservation Carousel.