All in Favor of Lemurs Say Aye-aye


Aristides, my nephew’s adopted lemur at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina

In an earlier post, I wrote about my young nephew’s “lemur cat,” Aristides, which my older sister and I adopted on behalf of my nephew as a Christmas present last year. Aristides is a lemur of the species Lemur catta, thus my nephew’s reference to him as a “lemur cat.” Aristides lives at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina, where groundbreaking, non-invasive research is conducted on various species of lemurs—many of which are endangered or threatened.

The adoption process, which helps defray the costs of maintaining the animals in a habitat that closely mirrors their existence in the wild, entitled my nephew to a tour of the Lemur Center. So earlier this year, my nephew, his mom, Nanny and Pap, and I ventured over to the lemur habitat to learn more about these creatures. We were a bit disappointed to discover that we would not see Aristides during the tour, but we did see plenty of other lemurs. (Also, because it was a chilly winter day, the animals were indoors. If you plan your trip during warmer weather, you might be able to see the lemurs in their natural habitat in the Duke Forest.)

The Duke Lemur Center is situated on 85 acres of the Duke Forest in Durham, North Carolina

The Duke Lemur Center is situated on 85 acres of the Duke Forest in Durham, North Carolina

I won’t give away the lemur ranch here in this post, but I will say that the Duke Lemur Center names all their animals and they have quite a good time doing it…or so it seems. For example, all the ring-tailed lemurs have Greek names, and the blue-eyed lemurs are named after blue-eyed movie stars. Aye-ayes, my favorite lemurs of the bunch, have creepy character names, such as Endora. Fat-tailed dwarf lemurs are named after birds. An interesting fact about these little critters is that they can survive long periods of time without food by storing fat in their tails. Another fun fact? The fat-tailed dwarf lemur is the only primate that hibernates. Researchers at the Duke Lemur Center are currently studying the hibernation behaviors of the fat-tailed dwarf lemur in hopes of translating their findings into a better understanding of human sleep patterns and metabolism.


A Sifaka lemur at the Duke Lemur Center: The Sifaka are from the dry northwestern forests of Madagascar and are known for their vertical posture. ‘Sifaka’ is a Malagasy name given to this animal because of its distinct call—“shif-auk”—as it makes its way through the trees.

To learn more about lemurs and maybe even find your favorite, browse the Duke Lemur Center animal page. If you live in, near, or ever travel to Durham, consider a tour of the Center. It’s a fun place for pre-schoolers, post-schoolers, and everyone in between.

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. —Genesis 1:24

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