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Crowned sifaka mother with baby on her back sitting in a Madagascar forest

A crowned sifaka mother and baby.



Jack of All Trades

Madagascar’s forest ecosystems and lemurs have evolved together, away from other species. Their relationship is codependent, so when one is threatened, the other is, too. Lemurs tend to have specialized diets, sometimes eating just one type of plant. They also have a lot of jobs: they are primary pollinators for many native plants, which is unusual for a mammal! And they fill a janitorial role by tapping into trees and eating the bugs they find, keeping insect populations under control.


Estimated population decline of lemurs.

Small brown lemur holding onto a branch. Image of slash and burn forest removal.

Left: A small brown lemur. Right: Destructive slash-and-burn forest removal eliminates lemur homes.



Burning Down the Forests

The forests of Madagascar are being burned for illegal logging and large-scale agriculture and mining operations (both legal and illegal). On a smaller scale, slash-and-burn farming and charcoal production are also threatening lemurs and their island ecosystem. Finally, lemurs are hunted for food, captured for the exotic pet trade, and ritualistically killed by locals, as they're often perceived to be bad luck or a bad omen.

Ring-tailed lemur in front of a bright blue sky

Together, we can
turn things around.



A woman walks towards boabab trees carrying firewood in a basket on her head in Madagascar

Left: A Madagascan woman collects firewood in a basket on her head. Right: A lemur in its native forest habitat.


Lemurs are found only one place in the world: on the island of Madagascar.

A Global Community

Since humans arrived on Madagascar, at least 17 lemur species have gone extinct. San Diego Zoo Global is working to turn things around and keep these unique animals from disappearing forever. Science and research, combined with local community conservation and education, are just some of the ways we’re fighting lemur extinction.


Types of lemurs. They seem similar, but are actually quite different.

Red ruffed lemur baby held by a San Diego Zoo veterinarian

In May 2016 our red ruffed lemur, Morticia, gave birth to her first offspring, shown here. Red ruffed lemurs are listed as one of the world’s 25 most endangered primates by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), so every birth of a red ruffed lemur is important.



We’re dedicated to ending extinction and are confident we can bring lemurs back from the brink, but we can’t do it without your help.

Ring-tailed lemur sitting on large gray rock
rhino mom and baby


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