When I first relocated to Cary, North Carolina, I was familiar with lemurs from watching the movie “Madagascar” with my daughter. Of course, the animated lemurs were adorable and funny, and I loved them. That was the extent of my knowledge. However, I discovered much more about lemurs- and how much I love them- by taking a visit to the Duke Lemur Center.
The Duke Lemur Center is located in Durham, North Carolina on 80 wooded acres. It originally started as a collaboration of two biologists who were studying mammals and lemurs. The Center has created the largest living collection of endangered primates in the world. Currently, the Center features 250 individual lemurs of 21 species. The Center studies extensive areas, such as lemur genetics, behaviors and physiology to name a few.
Words really cannot do the Duke Lemur Center justice, but I will try my best to explain how incredible this place is. First, I must tell you-you must make an appointment to visit the Center, as they limit the number of tours and guests daily. It is easy to make the appointment, just call or email the Center.
Upon arrival, you will travel down a gravel path which opens up to a parking area. You will notice the high fences along the wooded area on your left. These are to help contain the free-roaming lemurs who get to be released into the woods daily. If you look, you may even see a few as you drive in. Once you park, you will probably see them right near the fencing. They are quite interested in their visitors and walk around the perimeter of the fenced area to check you out.
Prior to entering the lemur area, you are required to watch a short film about lemurs and the extinction risks. You will also pay admission here, give donations and visit the gift shop. Thereafter, you will proceed to a tour of the facility.
You will discover that there are SO many different kind of lemurs. I was quite surprised by that. The lemurs are all shapes and sizes and they all have different personalities. There were a few that really liked to interact with us. Also, at the end of the tour, there were baby lemurs kept in a special building where the light is low; you have to look very carefully to see the babies but they are adorable.
As mentioned above, there are lemurs that are let out into the fenced in wooded area during the day. In the early evening, the Center personnel bang on large drums. This drumming attracts the lemurs, who come running back home. It is really something to see!
The Duke Lemur Center is a great family activity. I have yet to meet anyone, of any age, who doesn’t just love the time they spend there. I hope you will make an appointment and go visit the lemurs. You will not be disappointed!