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Happy Hollow Blog

Lemur Pup Naming Contest

Wednesday, 5/20

Updated June 3, 2020
Over 3,000 people participated in naming the Happy Hollow’s newest addition!


Charlotte Graham, Conservation & Communications Manager
Phone: (408) 838-2859;?[email protected]

SAN JOSE, Calif.?(June 3, 2020)?– On April 17, Happy Hollow Park & Zoo welcomed an endangered black and white ruffed lemur pup. The public was invited to participate in naming the new baby. With over 3,000 votes, the winning name with 1115 votes, is Koa, meaning “addition” in Malagasy, the National language of Madagascar, where all species of lemurs are found.

The voting kicked off on May 20 with resounding fanfare. Online voters lobbied on the Park & Zoo’s social media for their favorite name out of three choices – Tiana, Zoma, and Koa, which? carry special meanings in Malagasy. Voters seized the opportunity to adorn Happy Hollow’s newest ambassador animal with their favorite pick.

Koa, Vintana and Nify (her parents), and brother Loka, live as a family unit inside Happy Hollow, as they would naturally if they lived in the wild. Groups or families of lemurs are referred to as a “conspiracy,” due to the way these animals work together to attack predators.

“The birth of Koa in San José coincides with the region’s efforts to stay strong in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jon Cicirelli, Director of the City’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services (PRNS). “Koa’s birth gives us hope for the future, and the survival of this critically endangered species.” Happy Hollow Park and Zoo is a PRNS destination, with the mission of connecting people to nature through play.

Although Happy Hollow is temporarily closed to the public, the work of the Zoo team continues – providing dedicated and professional care for all 150 animals of 60 different species. This new healthy female makes this critically endangered lemur species one pup stronger, and has provided an opportunity for the Zoo to educate the public about the conservation of the species.

“Every animal at Happy Hollow is an ambassador for their species,” says Zoo Manager, Kevin Hertell. “When people learn about an animal at our Zoo, our hope is that they will want to help protect that species in the wild – as well as the habitats and places where they live.”

Happy Hollow Park & Zoo has been continuously accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for over 26 years and participates in Species Survival Plan programs to safeguard animals like Koa against extinction. These programs help improve the genetic diversity of animals that are born in zoos, while educating and inspiring the next generation of conservationists.

If you are wondering how the other names did in the contest, here’s a breakdown of the voting tally below:

  • 1115 votes for Koa, meaning “addition.”
  • 1062 votes for Tiana, meaning “to be loved/to be liked.”
  • 903 votes for Zoma, meaning “Friday,” since the pup was born on a Friday afternoon.

Of course, some commentators offered their own suggestions on social media, such as “Zaboomafoo” (the name of a sifaka from a popular children’s television show), and “Lemur McLemurface.”

One voter commented, “It’s smart that they made this contest multiple choice.”

About the City of San José
With more than one million residents, San José is one of the most diverse large cities in the United States and is Northern California’s largest city and the 10th largest city in the nation. San José’s transformation into a global innovation center has resulted in one of the largest concentrations of technology companies and expertise in the world. In 2011, the City adopted Envision San José 2040, a long-term growth plan that sets forth a vision and a comprehensive road map to guide the City’s anticipated growth through the year 2040.

About the Happy Hollow Park & Zoo
Happy Hollow Park & Zoo?has provided outdoor play to the Bay Area since 1961. Happy Hollow is a facility of the?San José’s Department of Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services, and is supported by the?Happy Hollow Foundation. The mission of Happy Hollow is connecting people to nature through play. Happy Hollow features a unique combination of family rides and amusements, a Puppet Castle Theater, nature themed play areas, special events for all seasons, an Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoo, and a zoo education and wildlife conservation program with classes and camps for all ages. Happy Hollow also offers annual memberships for families and individuals.?