Madagascar! at the Bronx Zoo

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Leaping lemurs! Cave-dwelling crocs! Towering baobobs and octopus trees! The Bronx Zoo’s Madagascar! showcases the enchanting wildlife and bizarre landscapes of the world’s fourth largest island. Built in the historic Lion House on Astor Court, the exhibit, which opened in 2008, transforms the interior of the former home for big cats, while preserving the historic building’s Beaux-Arts beauty. The renovation has resulted in an eco-friendly city landmark, with complex innovations such as geo-thermal wells dug a third of a mile below the building that use the earth’s temperature to control heating and cooling. In recognition of such energy efficiencies, the Lion House received a gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Challenges

Few zoo visitors will ever travel to Madagascar, and many who pass through the exhibit are encountering lemurs, fossas, and tenrecs for the first time. The exhibit strives to provide both an introduction to these unique creatures and an understanding of the threats that jeopardize their survival in the wild. In the Small Wonders, Big Threats gallery, a short film explains that the island’s animals have lost 80 percent of their habitats due to logging and slash-and-burn agriculture. The animals and habitats of Madagascar are rare—and growing rarer—and it is our challenge to inspire a connection to the island nation’s wild creatures while there is still time to save them.

What WCS is Doing

Many of the animals of Madagascar! are part of the Association of Zoos’ and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plans. These cooperative conservation and animal management programs help maintain genetically diverse populations of selected endangered species in zoos and aquariums. In its first year alone, three of our lemur groups have added a new generation, with babies born to the Coquerel’s sifakas, collared, and red-ruffed lemurs. The Bronx Zoo also spearheads breeding efforts for the radiated tortoise; since 1985, there have been more than 400 successful births. What we learn by studying the lemurs and tortoises here—including what they need to breed—helps guide our fieldwork in Madagascar.

To help visitors connect to the wildlife of Madagascar, the exhibit offers opportunities to see the island through the eyes of a conservationist. At various interactive stations, guests can peek into viewscopes to see snakes in hiding, follow tortoise tracks, or find out who raided an iguana’s nest. By the end of a journey through Madagascar!, we hope our visitors walk away with a new understanding of the pressures faced by the wildlife of this unique place and how we can safeguard it for the future.

From the Newsroom

More than 5,700 Got Bugged on Valentine's DayFebruary 15, 2011

To be precise, 5,707 romantics named a Madagascar hissing cockroach on behalf of their loved ones for Valentine's Day, raising a collective $57,070 to save wildlife and wild places around the world.

Tortoises Approach Final Finish LineApril 6, 2010

Rampant poaching and a growing pet trade direct Madagascar's beautiful radiated tortoises toward extinction.

Madagascar! Exhibit Becomes Maternity Ward July 22, 2009

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo celebrates the first year of its Madagascar! exhibit with the births of five lemur babies. The exhibit has garnered multiple awards since opening last summer.

On Sale in Madagascar: CarbonJune 4, 2008

To save Madagascar’s pristine forests and combat climate change, WCS and the government of Madagascar agree to launch a massive carbon sale, totaling more than nine million tons.

Massive Map for MadagascarApril 14, 2008

WCS researchers create an unprecedented study of the island’s wildlife, plants, and climate, mapping the habitat for 2,315 species to pinpoint the best areas for conservation.

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