Belfast Telegraph

Bushy-tailed - but no name yet

It is a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed little bundle of joy.

This, as yet unnamed, crowned sifaka is Belfast Zoo's latest arrival.

But, even though the cute little lemur is more than a month old, zoo-keepers still cannot say whether the infant is male or female.

Curator Julie Mansell said: "For the first few weeks after birth, crowned sifaka babies hold on to their mother's stomach and, for that reason, keepers have not yet been able to determine the sex, or the name, of the infant."

The crowned sifaka was born in November to mother Linoa and father Tilavo as part of a successful breeding programme.

Belfast is home to one of only two breeding pairs in Europe, the zoo said.

Ms Mansell added: "In 2008 we were the first zoo in the British Isles to breed crowned sifaka. This success has continued ever since and the birth of our latest arrival is a massive cause for celebration."

It is a species of lemur normally found on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar.

Ms Mansell said: " Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world and is home to more than 250,000 species, 70% of which are found nowhere else in the world.

"However, Madagascar has one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet.

"More than 80% of the forests have disappeared since the 1950s, leaving sifakas and other irreplaceable species in danger of extinction.

"It is therefore imperative that zoos, such as Belfast Zoo, play an active role in the conservation of this remarkable species."

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