Infant Coquerel's sifaka peeking head and hands out of plastic weighing container

Six-week-old Coquerel’s sifaka infant Pax sits on a tiger plushie for a routine weighing. Photo by David Haring.

Spring has sprung at the Duke Lemur Center, and so has our second infant of the 2024 baby season: critically endangered Coquerel’s sifaka Pax!

Pax was born early in the morning on January 20, 2024, to second-time mother Magdalena and experienced father Gratian. She weighed a healthy 103 grams—about the weight of an avocado!—and had a strong grip on mom’s belly.

Infant Coquerel's sifaka held in blue gloved hands

Pax, three days old, is handled by the DLC’s veterinary team during an infant wellness exam. Photo by Sara Sorraia.

Like her parents, Pax gets her name from Ancient Rome. Primate Technician Hannah Wall, the primary caretaker for Magdalena and family, named the female infant after the Roman goddess of peace. (Coincidentally, it happens to rhyme with one of Gratian’s older sons, Thrax!)

Six-year-old Magdalena is the niece of Jovian, the late Coquerel’s sifaka who played Zoboomafoo on the eponymous hit TV show, making baby Pax his newest grandniece.

All in the Family

Side-by-side photos of Coquerel's sifaka parents with infant

In Coquerel’s sifaka families, mom (right) and dad (left) both take part in infant care. Photos by David Haring.

At almost 22 years old, Gratian is the oldest sifaka currently living at the Duke Lemur Center. His age, however, doesn’t stop him from helping Magdalena raise their daughter. “You’d never know that he’s almost 22 because he moves around so well and acts so young!” says Hannah. Pax has started participating in family play wrestling sessions, which Hannah has observed frequently between the breeding pair.

Geriatric Coquerel's sifaka sitting on a shelf, visible from the waist up and staring at the camera

Gratian, Pax’s father, has been a wonderful father to his many offspring over the years. He was born at the DLC but spent most of his life at the Maryland Zoo, returning to us just a couple of years ago on a breeding recommendation with Magdalena. Some of the husbandry staff say Pax looks like her dad—can you see the resemblance? Photo by David Haring.

Thus far, Pax has lived up to her peaceful name. According to Hannah, Pax is “pretty laid back, when she’s not eating or climbing on mom.” At two months old, Pax has started experimenting with solid foods, often stealing bites of winged sumac (a sifaka favorite) and other greens while comfortably snuggled up with Magdalena.

Pax is beginning to branch out from the safety of mom’s belly. “Recently, she’s becoming braver as she climbs on her own,” notes Hannah, “but always within mom’s reach, of course.” As a younger mother, Magdalena has been known to be protective of her infants, so Pax will have a close eye watching over her and keeping her safe as she starts to explore the world.

Infant Coquerel's sifaka sitting in a basket, lined with a brown blanket with white paw prints

To minimize Magdalena’s stress during baby weighings, husbandry technicians place Pax in a basket and allow mom to come retrieve her infant, rather than attempting to place Pax directly back on her mother. Photo by David Haring.

Infant Coquerel's sifaka riding fanny-pack style on mother, who is seated on an outdoor shelf and holding a redbud branch

Mother and daughter enjoy an afternoon of sunshine and delicious redbud flowers. Photo by David Haring.