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It has been just a few months since the famous lemur, known as ‘Zoboomafoo’, passed away at the age of 20, and fans of the popular television show mourned the loss. Duke Lemur Center, home to Zoboomafoo, is excited to share the encouraging news of the birth of his fifth grandchild! 

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Photo Credits: Duke Lemur Center

Zoboomafoo’s real name was ‘Jovian’, and his legacy lives on in seven surviving offspring and five grandchildren.  Jovian’s television legacy continues, as well.  The PBS children's show “Zoboomafoo”, aired from 1999 to 2001 and continues to entertain children in syndication.

Newborn granddaughter, ‘Isabella’ is a Coquerel’s Sifaka. She was born to Jovian’s oldest son, ‘Charlemagne’, and his mate, ‘Pompeia’, at the Duke Lemur Center on Jan. 25, 2015.  Weighing a healthy 3.8 ounces (110 grams) at birth, the baby and mom received a clean bill of health from veterinarians.

Though she is Jovian's fifth grandchild, Isabella is the first to be born at the Lemur Center.

Lemur Center veterinarian, Dr. Cathy Williams, said, “Successful births like Isabella really embody what we try to do here at the Lemur Center, which is to breed these animals that are extremely endangered in the wild, to learn about them, to give them a good existence and to try to prevent them from going extinct.”

As Isabella’s due date approached in January, lemur keepers checked mother, Pompeia, every morning for a new baby. In the early hours of January 25th, keepers discovered Pompeia sitting high up in her suite, with the baby clinging tightly to her tummy.

Lemur keepers and veterinarians kept a close watch on the newborn for signs of illness. They observed Isabella clinging tightly to mother’s abdomen and nursing, and she continues to gain weight -- all signals that the baby is healthy and mom is providing good care.

After a week to allow mom and baby to bond, dad Charlemagne (‘Charlie’ to his keepers), was slowly introduced to the infant. Within a few days Pompeia was letting the new dad groom and lick the infant. The family now spends all day together, while keepers observe the family’s interactions.

“Charlie put his head down close to the baby and started to ‘sing’ to the baby,” said keeper supervisor, Britt Keith.  Coquerel’s Sifakas use quiet, soft vocalizations, similar to a low “coo”, as they greet one another and touch noses. “He’s going to be a great father, just like his father [Jovian] was.”

Only a few thousand Coquerel’s Sifakas likely remain in the wild, and they are listed as “Endangered” under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Habitat loss due to slash-and-burn agriculture, poaching for meat and even climate change threaten more than 90% of all lemur species in Madagascar.

Slightly more than 60 Coquerel’s Sifakas live safely in captivity, all in the United States, and each one is managed by the Duke Lemur Center. About half live at Duke and the rest live across the country, on loan, to accredited zoos.

Visitors to the Duke Lemur Center might be able to see the new family as part of the Lemurs Live tour, which is available daily, by special appointment only.  

Isabella will also be on display during Lemur Week, March 28-April 4, which features a special cocktail reception and fundraiser called Jovian’s Jubilee, in celebration of Jovian’s life and conservation legacy. Visit the center's website for special schedule of events and reservation information: lemur.duke.edu 

To help support Isabella, and all the Coquerel’s Sifakas, at the Duke Lemur Center please consider the "adopt a lemur" program. https://www.gifts.duke.edu/lemur_share