News | City of San José



Caitlin O’Hara, Interim Manager for Conservation and Communication
408-838-2859; [email protected]
Photos and B-roll are available online.

Note: Happy Hollow Park & ​​Zoo does not allow unplanned media visits to the facilities. Due to the COVID-19 precautions and the high routine needs of our zoo animals, all interviews with animal care staff must be planned in advance.

The public can help name the newest Happy Hollow twins – female lemur pups
The birth of not just one but two lemur pups is a double victory for the endangered species

SAN JOSE, California (June 4, 2021) – Two endangered black and white Vari puppies were born on Friday April 16 at Happy Hollow Park & ​​Zoo – just one day before their sister Koa’s birthday. The public is again invited to take part in the naming of the latest zoo additions.

Black and white varis are named for the tufts of hair that line their ears and faces. The species is considered critically endangered in the wild due to habitat loss, wildlife trade and illegal animal trade, and climate change.

Anyone can vote on the future names of the new lemur pups. There are three options that have a special meaning in Malagasy, the national language of Madagascar. All lemur species are endemic to Madagascar and are not found in any other wild habitat in the world.

  • Sampana and Ravina (means “branch” and “leaf” in English)
  • Tahina and Tapia (a plant and a fruit from Madagascar)
  • Alina and Ala (means “night” and “forest” in Malagasy)

Please cast your vote before June 14th. The names of the winners will be announced on Wednesday June 16.

The two lemur pups live as a family unit in Happy Hollow with their older sister Koa, older brother Loka, their mother Vintana and their father Nify, as they would of course if they lived in the wild. Last year over 3,000 people took part in the naming of “Koa” (which means “addition” in Malagasy). In 2018 her brother “Loka” (which means “price” in Madagascar) was named in a public vote.

“The birth of two black and white Vari pups at Happy Hollow is a glimmer of hope for this critically endangered species,” said Kevin Hertell, Happy Hollow Zoo Manager. “When people in our zoo learn about an animal, we hope that they want to help protect this species in the wild – as well as the habitats and places where they live.”

Image of two young lemurs outside on a rock with food around them
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 protect animals such as Black and White Varis from extinction. These programs help improve the genetic diversity of animals born in zoos while training and inspiring the next generation of conservationists.

The zoo walk in Happy Hollow is now open by timed reservation, and lucky guests can catch a glimpse of the pups in the black and white Varis habitat. The work of the zoo team never stopped during Happy Hollow’s temporary closure – dedicated and professional care of all 150 animals of 60 different species – and these pups are a testament to their hard work and dedication. Book a reservation online today.

About the city of San José
With a population of more than one million, San José is one of the most diverse cities in the United States and the largest city in Northern California and the tenth largest city in the country. The transformation of San José into a global innovation hub 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 includes a vision and comprehensive roadmap to guide the city’s expected growth through 2040.

Via parks, leisure and neighborhood services
The City of San José’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services (PRNS) oversees 10 regional parks, 207 neighborhood parks, 290 park playgrounds, 48 ​​community centers, and nearly 100 km of hiking trails. It has one of the most diverse service models of any agency of its kind. ActivateSJ, PRNS ‘latest strategic work plan, is committed to building healthy communities based on belonging by following the guiding principles of responsibility, nature, justice and access, identity and public life to inspire. For more information, please visit

About the Happy Hollow Park & ​​Zoo
Happy Hollow Park & ​​Zoo has been providing the Bay Area with outdoor play facilities since 1961. Happy Hollow is a facility of the San José Department of Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services and is supported by the Happy Hollow Foundation. Happy Hollow’s mission is to connect people with nature in a playful way. Happy Hollow offers a unique combination of rides and amusements for the whole family, a puppet theater, nature-themed play areas, special events for all seasons, a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and a zoo education and conservation program with courses and camps for all ages . Happy Hollow also offers annual memberships for families and individuals.

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