Belfast Telegraph

Birth of rare lemur in Belfast Zoo brings hope to endangered species

By Linda Stewart

Staff at Belfast Zoo are celebrating after a very special arrival — the birth of a male baby to the only pair of crowned sifakas in the UK and Ireland.

The odds were stacked against the youngster’s survival — so critically endangered are these animals in the wild in Madagascar that their exact numbers are unknown.

Only 20 crowned sifakas are cared for in zoos worldwide and infant mortality rates sit at a shocking 80%.

Now baby Echo brings new hope for the survival of the species.

Born to Linoa and Andry, the last breeding pair of crowned sifakas in the UK and Ireland, his birth brings Belfast Zoo’s group to a total of five, meaning the zoo holds a quarter of the world’s captive population.

The crowned sifaka is a kind of lemur, a group of primates that can only be found on the island of Madagascar.

This particular species is only found in the western part of the island, making its home in dry deciduous forest, and is creamy white in colour with a dark brown head, neck and throat.

The sifakas live in groups of between two and eight individuals.

“We were all very anxious in the first couple of weeks after Echo’s birth,” zoo curator Julie Mansell said.

“When we discovered that Linoa was pregnant we were filled with both excitement and apprehension.

“We all know that the statistics are against us, but Echo is doing very well.”

Zoo manager Mark Challis said he was thrilled at the new birth.

“I am very proud of the zoo and the dedication and commitment displayed by the keeping staff during Linoa’s pregnancy,” he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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