Note to Editors: A news conference to cover the departure of the lemurs for Madagascar will be held at 11 a.m. on Oct. 16 at the Duke University Primate Center. Contact is Dennis Meredith at (919) 681-8054. A video news release and B-roll footage of the animals in their open enclosure will be made available at the news conference. Also, footage of the animals in the enclosures may be obtained by arrangement during the week before their departure. Contact to arrange videotaping is Melinda Stubbee at (919) 681-8067. Andrea Katz and Charles Welch may be reached via e-mail in Madagascar at email@example.com. Following the news conference, audiotape will be available on the Duke Newsline, 1-800-442-DUKE.
DURHAM, N.C. -- Five captive black-and-white ruffed lemurs -- Janus, Letitia, Praesepe, Sarph and Zuben'ubi -- will begin an historic journey Oct. 17 when they depart for Madagascar to become the first such animals ever to be returned to the wilds they never knew.
The five lemurs, born in captivity at the Duke University Primate Center, will travel to Madagascar accompanied by veterinarian Graham Crawford of the San Francisco Zoo.
Once in Madagascar, they will be acclimated in outdoor cages for about a month in the Betampona Natural Reserve, after which they will be released to join a dwindling population of their wild cousins. The animals are all named after heavenly bodies such as asteroids, planets, moons and constellations.
Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG), the project's international sponsor, plans to systematically repatriate as many as 20 of the adaptable lemurs to their ancestral island nation over the next three years. The first potential release groups of the long-tailed, tree-climbing primates now live in two U.S. research and breeding habitats: the Duke Primate Center and a Wildlife Conservation Society site on St. Catherine's Island off the coast of Georgia.