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Subject: alt.fan.lemurs: Frinkquently Asked Questions (Part 6 of 7)

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Official USENET Alt.Fan.Lemurs Frinkquently Asked Questions Part 6 of 7 -- Duke University Primate Center This section of the FAQ deals with the Duke University Primate Center, the largest population of Lemurs outside their native island of Madagas- car. Make sure to read the sections (below) about tours, souvenirs, and the all-important Adopt-A-Lemur program. DUPC needs funds to continue and extend its work and you can help. It also discusses what little we know about the programs carried on by the Jersey Zoo in the Channel Islands of the United Kingdom. ------------------------------ The Questions (1) What IS the Duke University Primate Center? (2) What programs take place at DUPC? What animals live there? (3) What other programs take place at DUPC? (4) Can I donate money to DUPC? (5) How do I go about arranging a tour of the Primate Center? (6) What is the mailing address of the Duke University Primate Center? (7) What is Adopt-A-Lemur? (8) Can I buy DUPC souvenirs through the mail? (9) What if I want to donate a LOT of money? (10) Is anyone else engaged in breeding lemurs to save them from extinction? (11) Can I reach DUPC over the Internet? (12) When you adopt a lemur, do you always get the same animal that anyone else adopting a lemur of that species gets, right down to being sent a form letter and the same photo? (13) Do you have any unbiased reports from observers who visited the Primate Center? (14) Does DUPC need volunteer helpers? (15) Are the DUPC lemurs as intelligent as other primates? ------------------------------ The Answers (1) What IS the Duke University Primate Center? The Duke University Primate Center (DUPC) began in 1958 as the Center for Prosimian Biology at Yale University. In 1966, the Yale colony was relocated to North Carolina and moved into its present buildings in 1968. From 1968 to 1973, Dr. John Buettner-Janusch served as Director and research was oriented toward behavior, genetics, and biochemistry. The colony grew to about 250 animals representing 10 species during this time. Several interim Directors served from 1973 to 1977. In 1977, Dr. Elwyn L. Simons became the Director. He expanded the scope of research to include conservation and the study of fossils. He also increased the educational opportunities and training for both under- graduate and graduate students. Under his leadership the colony grew to more than 700 animals representing 33 species and subspecies. Recent years have seen the overall size of the colony decrease to the current 540 animals representing 29 species and subspecies (see below). On May 15, 1991, Dr. Kenneth E. Glander became the Director of the DUPC and Dr. Simons took on the role of Scientific Director. As Scientific Director, Simons will concentrate on teaching, research, and the management of the Center's collaborative programs with Madagascar. Glander intends to build the Primate Center's programs around the issue of biological diversity. He will also expand the environmental educa- tion opportunities to include primary and secondary school science teachers. Education of the public is equally important for the future of these endangered primates. Outreach programs aimed at increasing environmen- tal awareness of elementary and secondary school children could be developed and disseminated via a public exhibit hall and classroom space which would be built outside the gates of the Center to prevent disrup- tion of the captive breeding and conservation programs. The pavilion area would serve as a staging area for tours of the animal colony and presentation areas for exhibits as well as providing modest office space for staff and volunteers involved in educational and promotional ac- tivities. One of the missions of the Primate Center is to assist in international efforts to prevent the extinction of Madagascar's most endangered primates. The Primate Center accomplishes this through: * behavioral and ecological research * international conservation programs * in-country training programs * captive breeding The Center is funded by the National Science Foundation, Duke Univer- sity, and private donations. ------------------------------ (2) What programs take place at DUPC? What animals live there? The DUPC primate collection consists only of prosimians. There are three groups of living prosimians: * the lemurs of Madagascar * the lorises and galagos of Asia and Africa * the tarsiers of certain East Asian islands (although these animals are being placed by some in taxonomic categories closer to apes, monkeys, and humans.) The majority of the animals housed in the DUPC colony are lemurs from Madagascar. Lemurs have lived isolated on their island home located off the southeast coast of Africa for more than 50 million years. In recent years the forests of Madagascar, once teeming with lemurs, have been reduced by more than 90% as a result of increased human population pressure. Lemur populations in the wild are rapidly declin- ing. As human population expands, increased need of food causes in- tensified hunting of lemurs. Also, the lemurs' habitat is destroyed by agricultural "slash and burn" practices. The result is that many lemur species are threatened with extinction. A principal objective of the Primate Center continues to be the captive breeding of endangered prosimians. In order to achieve that goal, efforts are being made to reduce the size of the Primate Center's colony so that it can better utilize the limited resources by concentrating on the most highly endangered species. In 1987, World Wildlife International announced that the Malagasy lemurs are the most gravely endangered group of primates in the world. Follow- ing this declaration, special- ists from Madagascar, Europe, and America met and agreed that the genetic diversity of the following 10 prosimians was the most severely threatened: * 1) the Lake Alaotra bamboo lemur (Hapalemur griseus alaotrensis) + 2) the golden bamboo lemur (Hapalemur aureus) 3) the greater bamboo lemur (Hapalemur simus) * 4) the blue-eyed lemur (Lemur macaco flavifrons) * + 5) the red-ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata rubra) * + 6) the aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascarensis) * 7) the crowned sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi coronatus) * + 8) the golden-crowned sifaka (Propithecus tattersalli) * + 9) the diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema) * 10) the mongoose lemur (Lemur mongoz) The DUPC currently holds eight of these species (Nos. 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) as indicated by asterixes, and hopes to get some golden bamboo lemurs very soon. The Center's current captive breeding efforts are focused on saving 5 of these 10 most endangered species of lemurs, (Nos. 2, 5, 6, 8, 9) as indicated by plus signs. The plight of these species is characterized by the fact that there are probably fewer than 100 golden bamboo lemurs left in the wild. This is an emergency situation if DUPC is to preserve the biological diversity necessary for a viable captive breeding program. The aye-aye may be in similar difficulty. The choice of these five species is not haphazard but rather based on the fact that the Primate Center has successfully maintained and bred closely related species and the fact that the need for preserving genetic diversity in these five species appears to be greatest. Furthermore, all the species listed above and, for that matter, all the species held at Duke, are bred in captivity and breeding records kept to ensure maximum diversity. The Primate Center has both diurnal (day-time active) and nocturnal (nighttime active) prosimians. Diurnal animals are housed in outdoor runs or in Natural Habitat Enclosures encompassing large tracts of the Duke Forest. All animals housed outdoors have heated winter sleeping quarters. These enclosures are vital for future planned reintroduction of the lemurs to their native habitats. Here, animals have the opportunity to learn how to find their own food, avoid predation, and roam in sufficient space to form natural social groupings. 65 acres of rich Duke Forest habitat offer a unique opportunity for study in a natural setting. A new Nocturnal Animal Building houses most of the night-time active prosimians. This recent addition to the Center was designed to control lighting, humidity, and temperature, critical for the well-being of these animals. Approximately 85% of the DUPC colony is captive-bred. No other zoo or institution has successfully bred so many different prosimian species. ------------------------------ (3) What other programs take place at DUPC? Fossils: Another important and unique aspect of the Primate Center is its collection of fossil primates representing prosimians, monkeys, apes, and other mammals. The collection consists of more than 10,000 fossils ranging in age from less than 1,000 years to more than 60 million years old. Housing both living and fossil primates in the same center is sig- nificant because the surviving prosimians are often called "living fossils," providing clues about the Earth's past environments. International extension programs in Madagascar: DUPC promotes international relations and cooperation through research, education, and conservation programs. Primate Center staff are assisting the Malagasy government to reopen Parc Ivoloina as a zoological and botanical conservation center. The joint goal of the park project is to increase the Malagasy people's awareness of the importance of conserva- tion through education, thereby making the native population cognizant of the unique flora and fauna of their island. ------------------------------ (4) Can I donate money to DUPC? Donations are gratefully accepted by the Duke University Primate Center. The address to send them to is DUPC, 3705 Erwin Road, Durham NC 27705. If you like, ask them to put you on their mailing list and send you their newsletter. ------------------------------ (5) How do I go about arranging a tour of the Primate Center? The Primate Center is located at 3705 Erwin Road, Durham, North Caro- lina. Durham is found on any road map of North Carolina, and you can buy a Durham street map when you get there. (It's in the big Duke Forest area that you get to off Routes 15-501 and 751.) Admission costs to the Primate Center are as follows: Adult $5.00 Child (12 and under) $2.50 Senior Citizen $2.50 Duke student $3.00 The Primate Center is open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon. You can't just show up; you MUST make an appointment. The number to call is (919) 489-3364. The tour is well worth the trip to Durham and the money. The lemurs are just as curious about humans as humans are about them and the experience of wandering from enclosure to enclosure is eerily like being studied back. You'll get to meet Blue Devil, the first aye-aye born in the Western Hemisphere, as well as the sifakas so clever that the DUPC people had to put an extra bolt on the outside of their door to keep them from jimmying the lock and escaping. The lemurs are wonderful little animals! Go see them. ------------------------------ (6) What is the mailing address of the Duke University Primate Center? Duke University Primate Center 3705 Erwin Road Durham, NC 27705 (919) 684-2535 or (919) 489-3364 ------------------------------ (7) What is Adopt-A-Lemur? You'll hear a lot about Adopt-A-Lemur on alt.fan.lemurs. Adopt-a-lemur is a means by which friends of DUPC can donate $50 to $250 to the Center and "adopt" one of the lemurs, receiving letters and photos and other information about your lemur. So far, dozens of animals have been adopted either jointly or individually by alt.fan.lemurs readers. Bob Smart even adopted a mated pair of ringtails as a wedding gift for a couple of lemur-loving newlyweds. Lemur adoption isn't just a cost-effective way to donate money while receiving something in return -- it's also tax deductible. If you would like to contribute financially to the programs of the Duke University Primate Center, you can! While the $2,000 needed to equip out an enclosure for a mated couple may be beyond the range of most people, there is an Adopt-A-Lemur program that allows one to make a difference at an affordable price. The cost of adopting any given lemur is pegged to the approximate cost of keeping that animal fed and medically cared for for one year. Hence, adoption costs for the smallest animals are usually $50 and the largest and/or rarest animals are usually $250. There are ranges in between of $100, $125, and $150 as well. For additional informa- tion, contact: Carol Holman (919) 489-3364. Duke University Primate Center, 3705 Erwin Road, Durham NC 27705. ------------------------------ (8) Can I buy DUPC souvenirs through the mail? Yes. Duke offers a lot of souvenirs, from t-shirts to frisbees to coffee mugs to posters to VERY nice gold-plated Christmas ornaments. Since the lineup of souvenirs offered changes from time to time, an actual price list will not be listed here. Instead, to get the price list, drop them a postcard and ask for the latest catalog (DUPC, 3705 Erwin Road, Durham NC 27705) or telephone (919) 489-3364. The money earned from the souvenirs goes to support the lemurs. Buy some! --------------- (9) What if I want to donate a LOT of money? Well, you can. Duke got a large grant from the National Science Foundation to renovate all its caging some time back, but the grant is contingent on matching funds. As funds are donated to Duke or become available, the NSF cuts loose more of the grant money. Duke will be happy to explain to you the various amounts of money needed to, say, build a new silo-style cage and will even put up a big nameplate naming the cage after you if you want. Again, you need to call Duke directly to get all this set up. The donations are tax deductible. --------------- (10) Is anyone else engaged in breeding lemurs to save them from extinction? You bet. Many zoos are engaged in a joint breeding project coordinated by a scientific body known as the Taxon Advisory Group. The TAG keeps track of lemur pedigrees and tries to ensure the most diverse gene pool possible by matching lemurs from various zoos and centers. Duke is the _largest_ center, with the world's largest collection of prosimians outside Madagascar, but it's by no means the only one. Many American zoos are involved in these programs. European readers interested in participating in sponsorship of animals or simply in visiting a breeding center are encouraged to contact Gerald Durrell, the famous British zoologist, at the Jersey Wildlife Preserva- tion Trust, located in the British Channel Islands. We don't know much about their programs, but the address to write to if you want to do the research for us is: The Trust Secretary Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust Les Augres Manor Trinity, Jersey British Channel Islands Let us know what you find out if you write them! We've also been told that the Hamerton Wildlife Centre, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, has a lot of lemurs. --------------- (11) Can I reach DUPC over the Internet? Yes. Write them at primate@acpub.duke.edu, or visit their web page at http://www.duke.edu/web/primate/ --------------- (12) When you adopt a lemur, do you always get the same animal that anyone else adopting a lemur of that species gets, right down to being sent a form letter and the same photo? Not necessarily. Duke is willing to let people adopt specific animals if they wish, logistics allowing, but often sends out the default package for an animal if no particular animal of a given species is listed. Joao de Souza noted that his girlfriend (presumably Maria Drago) had received, after adopting a new baby aye-aye, Cruella, the same photo of an adult aye-aye that had appeared in his newspaper about a different animal. He asked if Duke always sent out the same photo regardless of animal. The question was answered on two levels: One: the truth: Cruella is being kept away from the general public and disruptions of her routine as much as possible. Dr. Glander could probably describe this in greater detail but basically, the intent is to keep the aye-ayes wild and prevent the 'imprinting' which took place in "Blue Devil" from happening again. Blue Devil is a weird critter that doesn't get along with fellow aye-ayes. So, yes, we don't stick cameras in her face a lot. Incidentally, so many lemurs were adopted through Adopt-a-lemur that the volunteer staff at DUPC is somewhat overburdened getting all the packets for all the animals out with individual photos of each specific animal. So, yes, occasionally 'default photos' are used. The other answer to the Cruella question: Nosferatu, one of the adult aye-ayes, was bemused because, during one of his nocturnal forays through the Primate Center's overhead ductwork and down into Dr. Glander's office, he had discovered that he was named after a vampire. He looked up 'vampire' and found that vampires cannot be seen in mirrors or captured on film. Hence, he got into photographer David Haring's supplies and started trying to take pictures of himself. Since David doesn't keep a Polaroid camera around, all Nosferatu managed to do was fill up several rolls of film on several cameras with pictures of himself staring bemusedly into the lens. When the rolls were sent off to be developed, DUPC ordered the standard thirty copies of each shot to sell to the visitors. Imagine their surprise when they wound up with several hundred photos of Nosferatu. Hence the reason why, to this day, they're still trying to foist Nosferatu pictures off on anyone we can. ------------ (13) Do you have any unbiased reports from observers who visited the Primate Center? Sure! Jim Griffith (griffith@dweeb.fx.com) wrote: So I just got back from my two-week, cross-country road trip, and the first place I visited was the DUPC in North Carolina. I got to meet everyone there, mainly Dorothy who works the front desk, Dr. Glander (who was really busy, of course), Carol Holman (ditto), and Stephanie (sigh, talk about an attractive, intelligent lady. Knows the lemurs by name without resorting to tags, knows how to gross out tourists with stories of disgusting insects, you name it). So I got to meet Agrippa, who is, of course, a serious chick magnet. I *told* you people that chicks dig golden crowned sifakas. It was also cool, because they just picked up another pair of GCS'es, which they are keeping in a cage inside one of the larger enclosures. Since I'm a "major contributor" (heeheeheehee), and since I've adopted one of the GCS'es, they took me through the enclosure to see the two new GCS'es (note - if you plan on visiting the DUPC, don't bother to ask to do this - they'll deny that they do this). It was really cool walking through this forested area, seeing these red-ruffed lemurs lounging on overhang- ing branches all around me. And I could swear I saw this one ring-tail wearing a miner's helmet and wielding a pickaxe stick his head out of a hole, see Stephanie, and duck back before she could see him. Gonna be a wild time in Durham for a while... Anyways, I got to see the two GCS'es, and while I was looking, the male jumped over to me and started whuffling, as if to say "you eyeing my woman?". As we were leaving, they both leaped over to the door, hoping to find a way out - apparently they take every opportunity to get out (which is in character, of course). I also got to see Nigel ("You lookin' at me?"), the "anything-but" gentle lemurs (but not Be-bop - apparently he's in solitary), the blue-eyed lemurs named after famous movie stars (which, by the way, are the only other primate species besides humans to have blue eyes), the one-armed red-ruffed lemur, and the aye-ayes (talk about *ugly*...). I had to laugh as one of the ring-tails slipped Stephanie's car keys out of her pocket while she was talking to us. Far be it from *me* to turn them in - they know where I live. Another thing is that photos really don't do the lemurs justice. You can't fully appreciate a lemur until you've met one in person and had him lift your wallet. For starters, the ones which look bigger in photos end up being smaller than expected and the smaller-looking ones end up being bigger. The GCS'es are much larger than I expected, and the gentle lemurs (otherwise known as "those lemur assassins") are much smaller. Their mobility is kind of strange too. You expect them to either be completely manic or virtually comatose, and in point of fact they alternate between the two states. You'll watch a Coquerel's sifaka sitting calmly on a tree branch, when suddenly he's leaped 20 feet to hang on the cage wall and stare you straight in the eye. It's an incredible thing to watch. Anyways, it was a really cool tour, and I came away with a lot more respect for the center and its people. I showed up expecting it to be much more glamorous, but it's a working facility, and that's what you quickly notice. They have something like 2500 individuals, 2000 or so of which have been loaned out to zoos or other institutions ("lemur pimps"? Hmmmm...), so the center has 503 individuals. Of the 2500 that the center is responsible for, 91% of them were bred there - only 9% represent captured lemurs. That's pretty impressive. If you want to go for a tour, I just have a couple of suggestions. First off, they're an institution which is consistently under-funded, so have the good manners not to argue about money (the tour is cheap anyways). Second off, please remember that these people do serious work. They're not in the business of entertaining tourists. So check the place out, enjoy yourself, but try to keep your place and don't tie them up for hours, expecting them to entertain you. Jim ----------- (14) Does DUPC need volunteer helpers? Sure! Although they'll take volunteers, be aware that there are only so many tour guides needed, though. Some volunteers help out with animal records and others help out in the fossil lab, and so forth. Just call Duke at (919) 489-3364 if you live close enough to be able to help out. While we're on the subject, here's an account Joel Furr wrote about what it's like to volunteer there: Those of you who've been to the DUPC know what a cool place it is. However, I just wanted to let you know how much more interesting it is when you're volunteering there and can come and go around the place. My volunteer assignment, at present, is to wander down to the techs' logbook on weekends and take pages up to the computer to enter into the various animals' records. For example, if the tech feeding the lemurs in enclosure NHE2 notice the Lemur catta playing banjo over by the pond, he or she will make a note in the logbook that looks like this: 17/Nov/93 L.c. in NHE-2 seen playing banjo again. Sounded like "Dixie." Didn't identify specific animals. And then I come along and enter it into the NHE-2 Lemur catta file. If, on the other hand, it's about a specific lemur such as, say, Nosferatu: 17/Nov/93 D.m. Nosferatu #____ OR VIII b seen with Dr. Simons' copy of Das Kapital again. Book was taken away from him and was replaced with some old Richie Rich comics. Nosferatu went "EEEEP" when we gave him the comics. I'd pull up Nosferatu's file, using his ID number, and add the log entry to the list. In other words, I get to pull up records on ALL THE LEMURS THERE and see what they've been up to for the last three years or so (or however long they've been there.) Some of the techs have a sense of humor. Or perhaps it's the lemurs. Not sure which, really. Reading about the aye-ayes going "EEEEP" and eating all their aye-aye glop is fairly amusing. [On the other hand, reading about some of the lemurs in one of the large outdoor habitats killing infants from other species in the neighboring habitat was a little grim.] Another cool thing about working as a volunteer there is giving tours. I have only given one tour so far [at the time this was written] and that was pretty much of a practice tour, given when a group of five people called one morning to ask for a tour and I didn't know enough to tell them that all our tours were filled. So, I gave them the standard DUPC stroll-around-in-a-big-circle-and-look-at-all-the-lemurs- especially-Diphda tour, with help from the educational coordinator, Carol Holman, who I brought along so she could correct me when I left things out or got my facts wrong. Giving lemur tours is right up there, I think, with being captain of that jungle cruise boat at Walt Disney World. The lemurs study the people on the tour just as intently, if not more so, than the people on the tour study the lemurs. Some of the lemurs, like the crowned lemurs, have a terrific knack for sneaking up to the wall of their pen to eye you suspiciously, then bounding away in no time at all the minute you glance around. Lemurs can jump better than anyone. When some of the lemurs, like the Coquerel's Sifakas, are bounding around the upper branches of their tree, or swinging from the roof of their enclosure to the walls and back again, you begin to wonder if they didn't independently evolve Flubber. Lemurs can also make noise better than just about anyone. Well, specifically those loony red-ruffed lemurs. Red-ruffed lemurs and black-and-white ruffed lemurs have an alarm call that they use whenever they're startled, afraid, alarmed, or just bored. Since they're not very bright, as lemurs go, they sound the alarm call once every half hour or so and keep it up for a few minutes until they finally realize that they're not being devoured alive and that they might as well get back to lying in unnatural positions on branches looking very comfort- able. We were standing in front of a pen of red-ruffeds the other day when they did the call and it was like watching bullfrogs: their mouths and throats expanded and out came this horrid cackling call that would have made any predator handy bolt for cover. Some of the lemurs have interesting personalities. The aforementioned Diphda, a red-ruffed lemur, is known as the three-legged lemur since she had to have a forelimb amputated when she was very young, and as a result was hand-raised by humans and likes them a lot. Diphda will come to the side of her pen when tours walk by and grin out at them, and if you do it right, she'll let you pet her on the head or talk to her. She seems to have very little difficulty bounding around her pen, three legs and all. Bebop, on the other hand, is not kept where tours can see him. A short, surly-looking gentle bamboo lemur, he once fanged a tech so thoroughly on the hands that she'll always have scars in the webbing between her thumbs and forefingers. One of the entries on Bebop in the logfile refers to him being incarcerated in Maximum Security Cellblock #3. He LOOKS very cute, you see, in a surly sort of way, and clings to the bars looking like he wants to nuzzle you, but if you reach tentatively out to him, you get to see some VERY sharp little teeth. Withdrawing your hand quickly from his biting range is advised. One of the more interesting experiences I've had since starting as a volunteer at DUPC was getting to suit up in booties and a full body coverall in order to visit the new Diademed Sifakas still in quarantine in one of the subterranean chambers of the Center. The Sifakas are three in number: a mother and her son, and a sad-looking male who at last report was getting over his captivity and adjusting to life "inside." With any luck, the male will form a mating bond with the female. We had to suit up to visit them since no one knows what diseases a new species might carry, and no one knows how vulnerable they might be to human diseases. If we'd actually gone into their cage, we'd even have had to put on masks. [Note: the Diademed Sifaka female died in the first half of 1994, but the son and male are in fine shape. DUPC plans to bring in two females for them in 1995.] If you're sitting at the computer on the top floor of the Primate Center, you occasionally hear a loud THUNK from behind you. One side of the corridor looks out through large windows onto the enclosure where Flavia and Nigel and their offspring, bouncy Coquerel's Sifakas all, live. It's a large enclosure with lots of branches and things to swing on, and it's two stories high. They like to peer out at the people walking by, and sometimes, when I'm sitting there entering data, they'll leap to the window and peer in at me. That's the reason for those occasional THUNKs. You'll look around, and a black face surrounded by glossy white and gold fur will be peering in at you. [Due to cage renovation, Nigel and company have now been moved to a large silo-style cage further away from the Center proper.] As Dr. Kenneth Glander, the director of the Primate Center told me on Saturday, lemurs really WOULD go nuts trying to get Twinkies and Big K Grape if they had a chance. Lemurs are insatiable lovers of sweets. We were right all along! Some of them do make a noise that sounds sorta like "Frink." Especially the Mongoose Lemurs. It's a grunting sort of "Frink," but you can tell, that's what they're saying. I think the Red-Ruffed Lemurs' alarm call is a loud, squawking "Ptang" as well. ------------ (15) Are the DUPC lemurs as intelligent as other primates? Joel Furr wrote: Lemurs have been denigrated by some as "less intelligent" than more advanced primates such as monkeys, gorillas, and man. Leaving aside comparisons such as lemurs dancing naked in the woods while men build atomic bombs, I personally feel that lemurs show a great deal of intelligence and imagination. Nowhere is this more evident than at the Duke University Primate Center's Coquerel's Sifaka area. The Sifakas overcame locks and electric shocks to achieve their cryptic ends and managed to outwit their keepers for quite a while. It started one day when the lemurs in the core area downstairs in the Primate Center building were found bounding around in the hallway after David Haring, the colony manager, had been through the area feeding the animals. Haring thought he might have left their door ajar after feeding them, so he made sure it was shut and went back to his work elsewhere. Soon thereafter, the lemurs were found bounding around in the hallway again. Upon observation, it was discovered that one of the lemurs, Constantine, had figured out how to work the door from the inside and get out. A special lock had to be installed to keep Constantine and his clan in their room. Nevertheless, Constantine didn't give up. Now and then, a tour group would go through the area and, in the process, jostle his door. Constantine would tiptoe over, lemur-style, and check his door... just in case. Another Coquerel's Sifaka, Sabina by name, had some eating problems. As the dominant female of her group, she had rights of first refusal to all food placed in her room, and she never saw an item of food she didn't like. Normal Coquerel's Sifakas weigh about 8 pounds. By the time Sabina had gotten done gorging herself up to her maximum weight, she weighed 23. Pictures of Sabina at this time show a ball of fur that looks like three lemurs huddled together. Normal Coquerel's Sifakas can spring great distances with amazing balance and precision. Sabina, at maximum weight, could hop a few inches. Then hop again. Apparently, it was both funny and sad. Clearly something had to be done. The Primate Center experimented with an invisible fencing collar, which would give Sabina electric shocks if she got too close to the food intended for the other lemurs in her room. This worked for a while until something happened to loosen the collar a little bit and she was able to get at the food if she leaned over just right and thereby avoided making contact with the electrode in the collar that delivered the shocks. She also worked out a method for dragging the tray of food for the other lemurs across the room to her and chowing down. Finally, a combination of the electric collar and firmly attaching the food tray for the other animals to the floor got her weight down to a normal range. Sadly, Sabina died while on loan to a zoo, apparently suffering a toxic reaction to something in the food or in her cage. Some of the ruffed lemurs, thought by some to be less intelligent than other lemurs, show unusual wit (or at least inventiveness) as well. A black and white ruffed from one of the large outside natural habitat enclosures, developed a fondness for the Scuppernong grapes which grew nearby -- unfortunately, on the other side of the electric fence that protects the lemurs from wandering humans and keeps the lemurs in their study area. The voltage isn't set high enough to kill or injure the lemurs, but is high enough that a normal lemur won't want to get a second shock after first trying to scale the fence. Not this lemur, though. She decided the grapes were worth it and would climb the fence, getting shocked, eat her fill of grapes on the other side, then return home to her enclosure, getting yet another shock in the process. Then there was the red-ruffed lemur which escaped and found its way to a golf course, ten miles away... Lemurs do occasionally escape from their enclosures and pens, sometimes as a result of doors accidentally being left open, and sometimes when they manage to burrow under the fence. Often, the lemurs can be bribed back into their enclosures or cages with raisins, which they adore, but when this has to be done, it necessitates a later feeding of raisins for no reason at all, lest the lemurs come to associate raisins with escaping or with getting imprisoned again. Sometimes the lemurs wander around the center's grounds for a few hours until they get hungry and turn up looking to get fed. All lemurs wear collars with unique combinations of colors and symbols (so they can be identified at a distance), and marked with the Primate Center's phone number so they can be reported in should they turn up lost and forlorn miles from home. A red-ruffed lemur made it as far as a golf course in the neighboring city of Hillsborough, over ten miles away. Fortunately, the people at the golf course saw the phone number on the lemur's collar and called the Primate Center to come get their "cat." There was no report on how well the lemur had done on the course that day, nor what handicap lemurs normally get when playing golf. ------------ The final section of the FAQ is Part 7: Real Lemur Facts. ------------------------------------------------------------------ This section of the FAQ partially adapted from publications of DUPC. Revised April 5, 1993 by Joel Furr, jfurr@polaris.async.vt.edu Revised July 6, 1993 by Joel Furr, jfurr@polaris.async.vt.edu Revised August 10, 1994 by Joel Furr, jfurr@acpub.duke.edu Republished May 11, 2000 by Joel K. 'Jay' Furr, jfurr@furrs.org