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Duke Primate Center Sets October Expedition To Find 'Juliet'

DURHAM, N.C. -- The Duke University Primate Center has announced an Oct. 2-18 expedition to capture a mate for Romeo, the only diademed sifaka in captivity. The diademed sifaka, a graceful bright-eyed lemur, is considered perhaps the most beautiful of primates, with its silky fur in rich shades of yellow, orange, gray, white and black.

According to Primate Center Director Kenneth Glander, the expedition represents as much a rescue attempt as it does an effort to bring into captivity a breeding stock of these highly endangered animals, the largest living lemurs. The animals are currently heavily hunted for food in their homeland of Madagascar, and naturalists believe they will become extinct within a decade.

The expedition aims to capture three diademed sifakas -- a mate for Romeo and another breeding pair. Once captured, the animals will be temporarily housed at the Ivoloina Zoological Park in Madagascar, where they will be gradually acclimated to a diet resembling that available at the Duke Primate Center in Durham. The animals will be transported to the center next May, when spring foliage is available in Durham to feed them.

Over the last few years, the husband-and-wife team of Charlie Welch and Andrea Katz have worked to develop the Ivoloina Zoological Park into a combination lemur breeding facility, zoo, education center and tourist attraction.

The ultimate objective of the Primate Center capture program is to build a breeding stock of captive animals that can be used to replenish populations in the wild when protected areas are created.

The October expedition will involve Glander, Welch and a local guide, who will search the jungle for the animals.

Romeo first came to the Primate Center in fall 1993, along with his mother Titania and another unrelated male Oberon. The three animals were the first diademed sifakas ever brought into captivity outside Madagascar.

Oberon arrived at the center in po
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Contact: Dennis Meredith
meredithd@mail01.adm.duke.edu
919-681-8054
Duke University
18-Sep-1996


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