Philadelphia Zoo announces "Animal-in-Chief"

January 21, 2009 12:06:04 PM PST
With all the votes counted, and the results tallied, the Philadelphia Zoo is proud to announce that the Zoo's pygmy loris has been voted "Animal-in-Chief" and all-time favorite Zoo animal. Beginning Election Day 2008 and ending January 20, 2009 (Inauguration Day), visitors to the Zoo's website, , voted for their the top five favorite Zoo animals from over 50 animals in the Zoo's collection.

The top five vote-getters were:

Pygmy loris (437 votes)

Vampire bat (394 votes)

Echidna (332 votes)

Meerkat (324 votes)

Pygmy marmoset (189 votes)

A total of 2,254 online votes were cast with animal residents of Small Mammal House collecting 55% of the total vote (despite comprising only 8% of the choices).

Of the 50 animal choices, four never received a single vote (Rodrigues fruit bat, ruffed lemur, West African crown rail, white-handed gibbon) and 56% of the choices received less than 10 votes each.

The top five listed above were the only ones that earned more than 100 votes each (the complete list of animal "candidates," appears below):

More about the pygmy loris


Pygmy lorises, also known as lesser slow lorises, are small compact animals with short muzzles and tails, large eyes directed forward and short, dense coats. They are mainly brown or reddish-brown in color with white lines between their eyes, dark markings around their eyes, and a faint dorsal stripe. They are well adapted to climbing trees due to their opposable thumbs. Well developed muscles in their hands and feet give them a strong grip which allows them to grasp branches tightly for long periods without tiring.


Captive individuals have lived to 20 years, although 13-15 is more typical. Little is known about their natural history in the wild.


These small prosimians (primitive primates) are nocturnal and arboreal. The name slow loris refers to their deliberate movements that are very much like a chameleon. They travel along branches moving hand over foot and are very difficult to detect among the dense vegetation. They are not able to leap from branch to branch like the other prosimians. They can, however, strike with great speed when grabbing prey such as insects. They can hold on to a branch with their rear feet, stand up and throw their bodies forward in order to seize prey with both hands. Pygmy lorises are mainly solitary, although they may live in loose groups that contain several females but only one male. The males are very territorial and mark their area with urine.


The male pygmy loris has a large territory that encompasses that of several females. They contact each other by whistling. They mate once every 12-18 months, and the female will give birth to 1 ? 2 offspring after a gestation of 188 days. A baby pygmy loris weighs less than an ounce at birth. The infant loris looks just like a miniature adult. It has a full fur coat, its eyes are open, and it is able to grasp tightly onto its mother's fur. Although it will be nursed for up to nine months, the baby loris is parked on a tree branch shortly after birth where it stays, hidden in the dense vegetation.

The female will return throughout the day to nurse her baby. The two stay in contact through soft chirps, but the female is always alert to any distress call by her baby and will return to it immediately. Females reach sexual maturity at around 9 months, while in males it's not until they are 17-20 months old.