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Sophie The Baby Lemur Is Stealing Hearts At Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta announced the arrival of its newest resident this week. Sophie, a crowned lemur, was born to mother Sava and father Xonsu in April, though her birth was announced on Tuesday.

The family lives in Zoo Atlanta’s Living Treehouse, which also houses two other lemur species. Sophie's official birth announcement was accompanied by photos, videos, and information posted on social media. Sophie was named after the Sofia River in Madagascar. Her daily life currently involves feedings and playing with her dad.

“The crowned lemur baby recently started eating solid foods, and one of her favorite food to munch on is browse or edible foliage,” the Zoo says.

Crowned lemurs are an endangered species. According to the Duke Lemur Center, "Total population estimates [for crowned lemurs] range from 1,000 to 10,000 animals. As populations of this lemur become more and more patchily distributed in forest fragments, the genetic interchange between the fragments becomes increasingly difficult or impossible, thus increasing the likelihood of extinction.”

There are four reserves in Madagascar where the crowned lemur is protected, yet even in reserves, the animals are hunted by locals since the borders of the preserves are inadequately guarded. At the Montagne d’Ambre National Park, poaching of crowned lemurs is “widespread and growing.”

In 2012, conservationists at the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Species Survival Commission stated that lemurs are potentially more endangered than any other group of vertebrates.

The Duke Lemur Center says that one-third of lemur species have been extinguished since humans first arrived in Madagascar 2,000 years ago. The Center, however, is optimistic about their fate.

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“More people are more aware of how important are lemurs in Madagascar, and also many organizations work to protect these lemurs. So I am optimistic that lemurs can survive more than a hundred years from now if we give help to the local communities,” said Andrianandrasana, Duke Lemur Center Regional Project Manager.”

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