A 'Juliet' is found for the rare lemur Romeo

DURHAM, N.C. -- A Duke University Primate Center expedition to rescue a rare species of lemurs from a dwindling forest in the depths of Madagascar has captured two of the animals, a male and a female.

The animals are "diademed sifakas" -- the largest living lemur and considered among the most beautiful of primates, with lush fur of yellow, orange, gray, white and black. The captured female has already been dubbed "Juliet," because after a six-to-12-month period of acclimatization in Madagascar, she will likely join another of her species, Romeo, in residence at the Primate Center in Durham. He is the only member of his species in captivity and has waited six years for companion members of his species to arrive at the center.

Report of the capture came from an e-mail dispatch from expedition leader and center director Ken Glander.

"Juliet was rescued at 2:16 p.m. on October 10, 1999," Glander reported. "The rescue team had spent two frustrating days of walking through the forests of Mahatsinjo, 10 kilometers southeast Tsinjoarivo, Madagascar without seeing any sign of ... Juliet's species."

According to Glander, the expedition's Malagasy guide, the vice president of Mahatsinjo village, first saw Juliet and her group about four hours earlier.

"They were moving along the edge of a ridge-top forest segment. It took the rescue team another four hours to approach and tranquilize Juliet [and the accompanying male]," Glander wrote.

Once captured, the two diademed sifaka were carried in transport kennels by the local villagers the 10 kilometers from the forest to the expedition's vehicle, then driven to Ivoloina, a park managed by the Primate Center.

"The trip from their disappearing forest home to their new home in Ivoloina took two days because of the distance and the poor roads," Glander said. "Juliet and her unnamed companion are now adjusting to their new cage and learnin

Contact: Dennis Meredith
Duke University

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