Animals & the Environment: Lemurs

ring - tailed lemur (Lemur catta)

by Kacey Barton

One of the most memorable television shows I watched as a child was Zoboomafoo. I was excited to watch this little lemur bounce around and talk about all sorts of animals, but back then I didn’t understand the real threat some of them were facing. Zoboomafoo himself, a Coquerel’s Sifaka named Jovian, is part of an endangered species with a decreasing population and habitat range.

Lemurs are one of the most threatened groups of mammals on the planet. Due to habitat loss, illegal pet trade, and hunting, 90% of lemur species are now classified as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This is where places like the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina step in to aid conservation efforts.

Set on 80 acres of wooded land, the center is home to 250 lemurs, with 21 different species represented. Jovian and his descendants were all born in the Duke Lemur Center, and they, along with other species, play an important role in the research of lemurs.

The center also works with the people of Madagascar. In 2012, Duke Lemur Center began its conservation mission in the Sambava-Andapa-Vohemar-Antalaha region of Madagascar. Within SAVA, researchers and volunteers work with the local people to support their well-being and encourage environmentally friendly living, along with lemur centered conservation projects.

While their natural habitats in Madagascar are being chipped away, the lemurs at Duke Lemur Center thrive, assuring the gene pool will stay alive even if their wild relatives disappear with time. Did any television shows you watched as a kid inspire you to think differently about animals? Were there any that spoke to you more than others? Leave your comments below!