Born on January 15, 2011, baby Echo, a crowned sifaka, has staff at the Belfast Zoo jumping for joy! Keepers decided to call the baby Echo, as without successful breeding programmes this species will become nothing more than an echo of the past!
Crowned sifakas are critically endangered in the wild with numbers so low that exact figures are unknown. There are only approximately twenty crowned sifakas in zoos across the world and with infant mortality rates currently at 80%, staff at Belfast Zoo are ecstatic with the new arrival and his progress. Parents Linoa and Andry are the last breeding pair of crowned sifakas in the British Isles and Belfast Zoo’s group is extra special as they are on loan from the Madagascan government. Echo’s birth now brings Belfast Zoo’s group total to five.
“We were all very anxious in the first couple of weeks after Echo’s birth”, explains zoo curator, Julie Mansell. “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 is thrilled, saying, “I am very proud of the zoo... All the hard work has certainly paid off. This achievement is colossal and let’s hope that it is an achievement that we can repeat in the future."
The crowned sifaka is a type of lemur, a group of primates found only in Madagascar. Sifakas are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as they believe Sifakas face a very high risk of extinction in the wild.