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Duke Lemur Center Walking with Lemurs Tour

Discussion in 'United States' started by jayjds2, 20 Dec 2016.

  1. jayjds2

    jayjds2 Well-Known Member

    10 Nov 2015
    Virginia, USA
    Date of visit: October 9th, 2016

    Duke Lemur Center is a 70 acre facility run by Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Its main purpose is research and conservation of prosimians. It is home to 14 species of lemur, as well as a pygmy slow loris.
    The Walking With Lemurs tour is a 90 minute tour that costs $95 per person. It allows you to see three main parts of the facility, and ten species. The selling point is that you enter a free range enclosure with no barrier between you and the lemurs.
    The first thing on the tour is entering the enclosure. Our group of about 10 people entered an enclosure that was a staggering 6.6 acres! That is more than most zoos give elephants, rhinos, lions, gorillas, and other charismatic megafauna. While normally home to two species, it contained just three Coquerel's sifakas, a mother and two of her sons (this grouping is changing soon). It was amazing to see the creatures bouncing from tree to tree. The group walks a bit while following a keeper with food, for a better chance to see this behavior. After that, we reach a clearing in which three food bowls are set down. After watching them eat, while the guide is talking, they are left to do their own thing with the group following. The lemurs soared over our heads perhaps 20 feet or higher, and one accidentally dislodged a nut, which fell on my head.
    After this wonderful experience, we enter a building that was constructed in 2010 to provide more indoor holding space. There are both indoor and outdoor enclosures that are quite small, but most species have access to at least three complexes (three indoor enclosures, 3 outdoor enclosures) to make up for it. The floor is concrete, inside and out. The only lemurs we saw outdoors were a family of 2.2 crowned lemurs. Normally they'd free range with the sifakas, but when one was born a few months ago, they were separated to prevent aggression. I wish I could have seen this species in free range, because it's one that I haven't had a good chance to photograph. Other species in this building include black and white ruffed lemur, eastern lesser gray bamboo lemur, collared brown lemur, and ring tailed lemur. There are presumably more on the other side, but we only walked through half the building. The photography opportunities weren't the best, which was disappointing. We only got a few minutes with each species.
    The last part of the tour (and really, the part that I came for) is the Nocturnal Lemurs Building. It has three exhibits of the same size, for four species. This was also unfortunately the most disappointing part of the tour for me. Only two mouse lemurs are on exhibit, but I saw none. Of the two fat tailed dwarf lemurs on exhibit, I saw only one, and for just five seconds. The third exhibit has a social structure that is just odd, in every sense. It contains 0.2 aye aye and 0.1 pygmy slow loris. Not only do they come from two different places geographically, but that social structure for aye aye would never be observed in the wild. The 0.2 aye aye are Endora and Ozma, the first two aye ayes ever to give birth in America. At the ages of 31 and 33, they are (I believe) the oldest aye ayes in America and perhaps the oldest in captivity.
    Overall, I enjoyed the experience and will probably make a return visit to the center, though I might take a different tour (apparently the twilight tour lets you interact with aye ayes!). I'd recommend a visit if in the area, but keep in mind tours must be booked in advance. I'd also be sure to find something else to do in the area, because the 90 minute tour alone wasn't worth the nearly four hour drive I had to make for it (I visited Greensboro Science Center). The flaws of this tour are that you can't see every species the center has (I had been looking forward to red-bellied lemurs especially) and what lemurs you can see, you get limited time with. Any lemur fan should definitely visit!
    nicholas and Giant Panda like this.