Mama Madagascar!

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo’s Coquerel’s Sifaka and baby at Madagascar! exhibit celebrating its one-year anniversary this summer. Photo courtesy of Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Bronx Zoo is celebrating the birth of five newborns during the first year of its newest exhibit, Madagascar!.

Three red ruffed lemurs, 1 collared lemur and 1 Coquerel’s sifaka, all primates endemic to Madagascar, were born in the exhibit.

“These births are testament that the Madagascar! exhibit is proving to be an ideal habitat for its inhabitants as they settle in and raise their young,” said Jim Breheny, director of the Bronx Zoo and senior vice president of WCS’s Living Institutions. “The birth of these lemurs is testament to the fact that the animals are feeling secure and comfortable in their exhibits.”

In addition to the births, the first year of Madagascar! shows that its human visitors are also benefiting from the experience. Visitors are emerging much more knowledgeable about the conservation issues facing this island nation located off the coast of Africa.

According to a study conducted by Randi Korn and Associates (partially funded by National Science Foundation) the exhibit is successful at helping visitors develop new understandings about conservation in Madagascar. For example, after experiencing the exhibit, the majority of visitors could explain the roles of scientists working in Madagascar and their effect on conservation. This is a significant shift, as prior to visiting the exhibit, 70 percent of visitors could not express how conservationists protect Madagascar. Visitors also became more knowledgeable about the animals’ habits, environment, and endangered status, as well as appreciative of their natural beauty.

“Our visitors enter the exhibit enthusiastic to see strange new animals, like lemurs and fossa, and they emerge with a deeper appreciation and understanding of the island’s incredibly unique biodiversity and threats and challenges faced by animals living as part of an island ecology,” said Breheny. “They emerge as citizen conservationists, as potential partners with WCS’s efforts to save wildlife and wild places.”

Madagascar!, a renovation of the Zoo’s historic landmark Lion House, also achieved a LEED Gold Rating* from the U.S. Green Building Council. WCS has been recognized with several design awards for the exhibit, including the New York City Municipal Arts Society’s Best Restoration Award, and Excellence in Exhibit Design (the American Association of Museums’ highest honor). The exhibit was made possible through generous funding provided by WCS public and private supporters.

The Wildlife Conservation Society has worked to save Madagascar’s biodiversity for nearly 20 years. WCS has long standing programs involving Madagascar’s tortoises and fresh water cichlid fish species. Through its projects and partnerships, WCS is focused on protecting and managing a diversity of wild places in Madagascar, including the country’s largest remaining tract of rainforest, a quarter of its coastal forests, and its vast coral reefs – the third largest coral reef system in the world.

Two of WCS’s most notable achievements in Madagascar have been the design, establishment, and management of Masoala National Park and the Makira Forest Protected Area – Madagascar’s two largest, contiguous protected areas. Last June, WCS and the Government of Madagascar announced a landmark agreement, which will allow for the sale of more than nine million tons of carbon offsets to help safeguard the Makira Forest. In addition, WCS is working with Congress on federal climate change legislation that would allow U.S. companies to offset their carbon emissions through the purchase of carbon credits. Proceeds from the sale of those credits would, in turn, protect wildlife — rich tropical forests like Makira — contribute to the economic well-being of people living around forests, and help fight global climate change.

To learn more about WCS conservation efforts in Madagascar and around the world, visit for more information.

The Bronx Zoo is located off the Bronx River Parkway at Exit 6. For more information call (718) 367-1010.

More from Around NYC