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

Crowned sifaka



Jack of All Trades

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


estimated population decline of lemurs

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



Burning Down the Forests

The forests of Madagascar are being burned for illegal logging, and large-scale agriculture and mining operations (legal and illegal). Local land use such as slash-and-burn farming and charcoal production are also threatening lemurs and their island ecosystem. Lemurs are also hunted, taken for the pet trade, and ritualistically killed by locals when perceived to be bad luck or a bad omen.

Rintailed lemur looking off the the left 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


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. The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is working to turn things around and keep these unique animals from disappearing forever. Science, local community conservation, and education are just some of the ways we’re fighting extinction.


types of lemurs. They're similar, but all quite different.

Red-ruffed lemur baby held by a San Diego Zoo vet.

On May 18, 2016, our red ruffed lemur Morticia gave birth to her first offspring. Red ruffed lemurs are listed as one of The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates by the International Union for Conservation of Nature SSC Primate Specialist Group, and every birth of a red ruffed lemur is a critically important one.



We’re dedicated to ending extinction and 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