Best Zoo Animal

Coquerel's Sifaka

"It's Zoboomafoo!" The shouts of countless kids resound throughout the zoo's Primate House. The Coquerel's sifakas regard the scene with their perpetual wide-eyed stares — equal parts curious, bemused and confused: who or what is this Zoboomafoo you speak of? — and then return to the business of leaping from branch to branch. Their strong legs let these lemurs leap as far as 30 feet! Unfortunately, in their native Madagascar, sifakas can't leap far or fast enough to escape encroaching human development, and the species' wild population faces extinction. The Saint Louis Zoo is working to protect sifakas both in the wild and in captivity. One look at the adorable creature will convince you that this is essential work. It looks more teddy bearish than any bear, with vibrant yellow eyes above a stubby black snout and bright white fur marked here and there with distinctive maroon patches. The name sifaka is taken from the animal's alarm cry: shih-fak! Zoboomafoo is the cry you're more likely to hear, though, from a character on a PBS children's show who is based on a Coquerel's sifaka. These sifakas have their own names — Almirena, Caligula, Titus — but if being called Zoboomafoo helps draw attention to their plight and improve the odds of their survival, they probably won't mind.

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