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I Like To Move It Move It At The Duke Lemur Center

(Image of me at the Duke Lemur Center)

When I was a junior in college, my friend Brian began to call me his lemur. At first, I was confused; I wanted to be a majestic lioness or a wise owl, but the lemur stuck. I later discovered that the reason I was his lemur was because of the Dreamworks Movie Madagascar. He saw similar characteristics with me and the characters King Julian and Mort. In the movie, King Julian and his beloved sidekick Mort help acclimate the protagonists (Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman) as they enter the wild. King Julian is known for his magnanimous personality, great leadership, and high energy level. Mort is known as the mediator that helped his people gain and cement the trust with the protagonists.

(Image courtesy of The Duke Lemur Center)

When I moved to North Carolina, my family and I stayed in Cary, NC., before moving into my apartment in Chapel Hill. My mom would take the backroad as I learned about my new home. Each time we drove by The Duke Lemur Center. Once I got my COVID-19 vaccine, I wanted to visit the center and learn more about the animals. After months of planning, I had the opportunity to get a behind the scene tour of the center.

(Image courtesy of The Duke Lemur Center)

The tour took me behind the scenes, where I had the chance to see lemurs up close (I had to maintain a three-foot distance). I learned about lemur biology, evolution, and social interactions. I had the opportunity to interview Erin H., Student & Volunteer Program Coordinator at the Duke Lemur Center, while we walked around the center.

1. What is the Duke Lemur Center?

Founded in 1966, the Duke Lemur Center (DLC) is an internationally acclaimed non-invasive research center housing over 200 lemurs and bushbabies across 13 species—the most diverse population of lemurs on Earth, outside their native Madagascar. Because all of its research is non-invasive, the DLC is open to the publicand educates more than 35,000 visitors annually. Its highly successful conservation breeding programseeks to preserve vanishing species such as the aye-aye, Coquerel’s sifaka, and blue-eyed black lemur, while itsMadagascar Conservation Programs study and protect lemurs—the most endangered mammals on Earth—in their native habitat. The Division of Fossil Primatesexamines primate extinction and evolution over time and houses over 35,000 fossils, including extinct giant lemurs and one of the world’s largest and most important collections of early anthropoid primates.

(Image courtesy of The Duke Lemur Center)

2. Why is Lemur Conversation important?

The Duke Lemur Center's mission is to protect and preserve these truly unique primates. This mission is divided into three folds via , "to advance science, scholarship, and biological conservation through interdisciplinary non-invasive research, community-based conservation, and public outreach and education." The Center helps visitors and locals alike the importance of lemur's biodiversity.

(Image courtesy of The Duke Lemur Center)

3. How can undergraduate and graduate students get involved at the center?

At the DLC, Students can could experiments via the "living laboratory". The Living Lab is a control environment which removes the unknowns of studies conducted in the wild. Students like Alex Dehgan, founder of Conservation X Labs, have made huge strides in the conversation and research arena.

(Image courtesy of The Duke Lemur Center)

4. What are some ways people can give back to the center?

Lemurs aren’t just rare; they’re the most endangered group of mammals on Earth. - Duke Lemur Center

Lemurs are found in the wild only in Madagascar and their habitat which has only 10% of the natural vegetation cover remains

Lemurs and other prosimians like bushbabies and lorises are the most ancestral primates and evolved long before monkeys and apes.

Studying lemurs helps researchers learn more about primate evolutions and create valuable models for studying human diseases like Alzheimer’s.

(Image courtesy of The Duke Lemur Center)

5. What is the future of the center?

As for the future of the center, we will continue to be at the forefront of lemur research, education, and conservation. We are excited to be nearing the grand opening of our new Lemur Medicine and Research Center,.

(Video courtesy of Dream Works. Film Directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath. Video depicts the characters dancing to King Julien (Sasha Baron-Cohen)'s rendition of I Like To Move It)


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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