Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lemurs and a Thanksgiving Feast

Food! Glorious food! I personally think that may be the lemur theme song. Of course, lemurs don't know about Thanksgiving, but the Duke Lemur Center Primate Technicians do. They care for the lemurs and their fellow prosimian primates 365 days of the year. The techs work hard to see that every day is safe, comfortable, and interesting for the precious animals in their care. So the techs have planned some special treats for Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin flavored with cinnamon, sweet potatoes, corn, apples, grapes, bananas, grubs, meal worms - - - Yum! Of course, the pumpkin will be spread on branches so it can be delicately licked off; the sweet potatoes may be hidden in empty cans, and the corn may dangle from a string tied to the enclosure wire, but from a lemur point of view, that counts as "presentation." We call it enrichment for the animals. Hunting, climbing, sniffing out lunch in odd places makes life more interesting. Perhaps it sets off some genetic memory of lemur life on Madagascar.

In the picture above, Hesperus, a black lemur, is enjoying a cantalope that he planted himself - in that most natural of ways that animals plant seeds of fruit they have previously eaten. When the seeds sprouted, the techs took care of the plant until the melon was ready to harvest, and Hesperus could enjoy the fruits of his labor.

I did want to mention, again, that these delightful pictures are taken by David Haring, Duke Lemur Center's Registrar and Photographer.


  1. ROFL - Great photo! Hesperus makes that melon look incredibly tasty. Black lemurs are wonderfully weird :-) Its interesting to see a primate with such radical sexual dimorphism in color. I was just reading about the E. m. flavifrons subspecies, the only primate other than humans to have blue eyes.

    I'm so jealous you guys get to hang out with lemurs all day. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Daniel, I agree with you. The black lemurs are wonderfully weird. Isn't sexual dimorphism interesting. Can't help but notice that the group is named black lemurs, which describes the males, while female, who are actually dominate in their society, are a delightful auburn color. Life just isn't fair! :)

    Be sure and check our David Haring's website. He has some great blue-eyed black pictures. All our blue-eyed blacks are named for movie stars, who share their enchanting eye color.