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Tuesday, June 18, 2013 / 2:04 PM

The Zoo's New Baby Lemurs are Adorable—and Raise Awarness of Species and Habitat Loss

The Zoo's New Baby Lemurs are Adorable—and Raise Awarness of Species and Habitat Loss

Photograph by Robyn Winkelman

 

The Saint Louis Zoo’s Primate House has three new occupants this summer. Zanahary, Andriana, and Vintana—fuzzy, black  lemur triplets with white sideburns and big, neon eyes—were born last month as part of the zoo’s plan to save the newborns’ critically endangered kind.

The black and white ruffed lemur, unique to Madagascar, is in danger of extinction largely due to bushmeat hunting and habitat loss. The Saint Louis Zoo, however, has declared its dedication to saving the species by joining the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Ruffed Lemur Species Survival Plan, a program involving organized breeding and conservation.

About 10 years ago, after zoo staff assumed chairmanship of the organization, St. Louis became the international headquarters of the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group, an international association of zoos and botanical gardens that fund and host conservation programs, according to Ingrid Porton, the zoo’s curator of primates, in a press release.

The zoo’s other conservation efforts include its WildCare Institute, which supports 12 centers around the world in protecting animals faced with habitat loss, poaching and disease, and the Institute for Conservation Medicine, of which its research of Madagascar’s lemurs is a part.

The month-old triplets are joined by their four-year-old brother, Fidy, and three-year-old sister, Naissance, as well as their parents, Lulu and Mahery, at the zoo. They were given Malagasy names to raise awareness of their endangerment—Zanahary meaning “ancestral spirits,” Andriana meaning “noble rank” and Vintana meaning “destiny.”

“We hope that (the triplets) will engage all of us to work toward reversing the species’ potential destiny of extinction to one of continued survival in Madagascar’s rainforests,” Porton said in the press release.

The St. Louis Zoo (1 Government Drive, 314-781-0900, stlzoo.org), is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is free.

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