The Duke Lemur Center (Or “Eeeeeee! Lemurs, you guys! LEMURS!!!”)

January 11, 2013


As you might have noticed, I like cute, fluffy things almost as much as I like pie. And that’s saying something, guys. Because, as you know, I really, really, really like pie.

So you can imagine my excitement when I arrived in Durham, North Carolina this week and found out it happens to be home to the Duke Lemur Center. With over 230 lemurs, the Duke Lemur Center is the world’s largest lemur sanctuary.

And, as luck may have it, we were able to snag ourselves a tour of the Center on Monday.

The Lemur Center is located at the end of Lemur Lane. Naturally.

To get to the Lemur Center you must drive down Lemur Lane. Naturally.

After being greeted by our lovely tour guide, we started things off with an educational lemur video, and then we toured the facilities.

As to be expected, the place was jam-packed full of all kinds of lemur adorableness.

Like this guy:


And these two right here:


But what surprised me was that I was actually able to learn some stuff.

You see, usually when I go to these kinds of places – you know, the kind of places that have lots of cute, fluffy animals to look at —  I hardly ever learn anything as I’m too busy jumping up and down, squealing.

That’s what happened when I went to the Panda Sanctuary in Chengdu this past summer. Not that the Panda Sanctuary didn’t have plenty of educational signs detailing the intriguing daily lives and dietary habits of pandas.


Ooo, panda diet!

But, seriously, guys, how can I be expected to read stuff when there’s this going on?


Cue the sound of me squealing.


But, at the Lemur Center, I was able to learn all kinds of fascinating lemur facts because I didn’t have to read anything. Instead, I got to watch the adorable lemurs doing adorable lemurey things while listening to our awesome tour guide fill us in on all kinds of fascinating lemur facts.

Cue the sound of me squealing while trying not to drown out the tour guide.

Cue the sound of me squealing while trying not to drown out the tour guide.

Like, the fact that lemurs are prosimians – which means they’re a more primitive form of primate than monkeys. But they’ve also been around a lot longer than monkeys, and they haven’t let a little thing like the lack of an opposable thumb hold them back.

In fact, it’s believed that lemurs first arrived in Madagascar some sixty million years ago from Africa by floating on rafts made out of clumps of vegetation and trees.


Think about that for a second.

Lemurs were navigating the high seas before humans even existed.

So by the time humans actually evolved enough to hop on boats and take off to worlds unknown, lemurs were all like, “Yep. Been there. Done that.”

I think this all goes to show that lemurs are probably going to take over the world some day.

Kind of like Planet of the Apes.

But way cuter.

I am your leader. Do everything I say.

I am your leader. Do everything I say.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Our last stop on the lemur tour was the nocturnal house.

That’s where we got to see the aye-aye, which I decided is my favoritest type of lemur ever. Which, trust me, was a difficult decision to make. Because there were all kinds of different lemurs of all shapes, colors and sizes. And they were all equally adorable.

There was even one with piercing blue eyes — the kind of eyes that look deep in your soul and say, “How you doing?”

Those eyes, you guys.

Hello, ladies.

But what I loved about the aye-aye was that it wasn’t just another adorable lemur.

In fact, this thing was not cute at all.

It looked like a cross between a bat and the monster that lives underneath your bed.

Hello, you may recognize me from your nightmares.

Hello, you may recognize me from your nightmares.

In addition to being totally creepy looking, it had this crazy, long, skinny, middle finger that it uses to forage for food.

Or, you know, to stick into your ear in the middle of the night and pull out your soul. (Okay, so that last part is totally not true. But some tribes in Madagascar do believe that if the aye-aye points its skinny finger at you, you are a goner.)

The aye-aye... and its soul-sucking finger.

The aye-aye… and its soul-sucking finger.

When we finished our tour, we were deposited in the gift shop where you can buy all manner of cute, adorable lemur-themed souvenirs.

Like lemur mugs.


And lemur ears.


And, not surprisingly, lemur-made art.


Because, of course, not only are lemurs cute and fluffy and capable of floating on rafts before rafts were even invented, they’re also super artsy.

I told you they’re totally going to take over the world.

It’s a good thing I’m prepared.

Hi Future World Leader Lemurs, I'm totally one of you. Don't hurt me.

Hi Future World Leader Lemurs, I’m totally one of you. Don’t hurt me.

What animal sanctuary have you enjoyed visiting or want to visit?

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On January 11, 2013 at 11:16 am James @ Fly, Icarus, Fly said:

    I went to a cheetah rehabilitation center in Namibia. Best. Day. Ever. There were three hand-raised ones and the rest were wild. But being able to stroke and play with one of the tame ones was magical.

    By the way, that aye-aye photo looks like a hairball turned inside out with ears, nose and Lord knows what all jumbled up. I’ll send you my therapy bill…

    Enter that photo in this week’s Photo Roulette. I’ll pick you as the winner. Promise! But keep it on the DL. 😉
    James @ Fly, Icarus, Fly recently posted..Travel Photo Roulette Round #53: Serendipity

    • On January 11, 2013 at 10:18 pm Sally said:

      I can’t take credit for the aye-aye photo. It’s actually a photo I took of a photo because I couldn’t take any photos of them in nocturnal house as it was too dark and I didn’t want to use a flash and unleash the wrath of the aye-aye finger.
      And, yes, I did notice your plug for Photo Roulette. You’re so subtle. NOT. 🙂

  2. On January 11, 2013 at 11:44 am Pamm said:

    Absolutely one of your best and funniest posts.

  3. On January 11, 2013 at 1:46 pm Priya said:

    Girl, you make it impossible for me not to laugh. And, mind you, I’m currently sitting in a non- Laugh Out Loud setting. So this isn’t working too well for me right now. This post reminds of the time I was chased by a monkey. In India. When I was 11-years old. I thought I was going to die. And my parents stood there laughing at me. While I was about to die.
    Priya recently posted..Technology Hates Me, And I Kind Of Hate It, Too

  4. On January 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm Uncle Ed said:

    Scary old things. You just know someone is going to add genes to their DNA and they’re going to sneak around doing weird stuff. Those thumbs look plenty useful to me. True sign of advanced society, can they use toilet paper?

  5. On January 11, 2013 at 3:31 pm Charlie said:

    They sit there so cool and laid back like they are just waiting for a little bit of energy to just finish that world domination bit, like maybe soon after NCIS finishes, but only if its the news after rather than Law and Order SVU. I went to the orangutan sanctuary in Borneo. That was amazing. And the guide kept finding other fabulous things to look at while we were looking around like fluroscent snakes and other teeth-bearing nasties, very exciting!
    Charlie recently posted..Day 11: In Honour of Alexander McQueen

  6. On January 11, 2013 at 7:57 pm Gabby said:

    I am so envious it hurts. A lot. Appendecitis size.
    I, too, have fallen in love with the Aye-Aye, and when I want to creep out my kids I give them the shaky “aye aye finger” and chase them about insisting I just want to remove the grubs from their ears.
    Creepy, huh?
    I can’t afford meds so don’t even say it.

  7. On January 12, 2013 at 1:59 am Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    Oh. My. God. I just finished reading a pun-filled post about cheese on another blog, and naturally when reading anything cheese-related online, my thoughts turned to here. “Hmm, Sally likes cheese. Does she have a new cheese post, I wonder?”

    THEN I CAME HERE AND THERE WERE LEMURS. I totally need a pair of lemur ears, and that Got Lemur mug to transfer the peppermint tea I’m drinking into. And then a lemur to serve it to me. And an aye-aye to unleash at work to terrify my co-workers.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Foodporn NZ: Auckland Budget Restaurants

    • On January 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm Sally said:

      Yes, I think an aye-aye would make a wonderful work companion. I wish I had one during my essay writing class last semester. Anytime a student gave me an excuse about not having their paper in on time, I could have just pointed the aye-aye finger at them.

  8. On January 12, 2013 at 2:40 pm Selly said:

    After reading this post I’m almost willing to substitute my fish addiction with an addiction for cute fluffy lemurs!!! Argh. So sweet 🙂

  9. On January 13, 2013 at 12:05 am Ross said:

    Lemur are so cool. Looks like a great place to visit. Although I do hate to see animals in cages. The photo of the lemur sitting with it’s arms folded behind the wire cage sort of breaks my heart. I picture it thinking “Why did you lock me up? I didn’t do anything.”
    Ross recently posted..The Boxer

    • On January 13, 2013 at 1:22 pm Sally said:

      It’s a difficult situation to judge. Because, yes, it’s sad to see animals in cages, but they are being well taken care of and protected. Plus, by having the lemurs at the Center, they have been able to breed them in captivity to help repopulate the dwindling population of lemurs in Madagascar and conduct a lot of research and raise awareness — all of which helps the conservation efforts. Honestly, I’d rather see a few animals in cages and know that in the long run it’s helping save the overall population of lemurs.
      And they have a huge forest on the grounds where the animals basically get to roam free during the summer months. AND you can take a tour of that. I totally need to go back for that.

      • On January 13, 2013 at 4:37 pm Ross said:

        Thanks Sally, I agree. I understand the value of keeping some animals in captivity, especially at a research center that takes good care of the animals. In that picture the lemur has such human qualities, it kinda made me sad (although I love the picture).
        Ross recently posted..The Boxer

  10. On January 16, 2013 at 9:47 am Amy said:

    OMG. I love lemurs! I have a stuffed animal lemur hanging from my closet doorknob that my sister got me for Christmas one year. (She also bought me a stuffed animal frog one year from the Build A Bear Workshop that did not go over nearly as well. I don’t have a particular affinity for frogs. Plus, I’m 40. It was an awkward gift opening moment. “Thanks! It’s a, uh frog!”) Have been to many animal sanctuaries, some good, some that make my heart hurt. There’s a good one in Idaho where you can feed a baby bear. My sister just went to one where you are allowed to carry around a baby goat. They asked her if she wanted to carry around a baby goat and she said, “Hell yeah!” and then ran home to call me and rub it in.

  11. On January 17, 2013 at 12:55 am cosmoHallitan said:

    Squeal!!!! I love the ones with the owl-like faces. They totally look like they could take over the world. And I’m pretty sure I’ve seen those lemur ear-muffs for sale on a blanket near my apartment in Shanghai.
    cosmoHallitan recently posted..Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace, Bangkok

  12. On February 2, 2013 at 6:03 am Michelle said:

    love, love, love, the lemur center. Those critters are so cute.
    Michelle recently posted..Hungarian goulash

  13. On March 4, 2013 at 11:00 pm Ceri said:

    I still have that panda place that you visited on my list of places to go because, y’know, PANDAS! 😀

    But, seriously, how did you ever manage to leave this place? Cutey cutey lemurrrs. <3 How didn't you beg the people there for a job so that all you had to do all day was just play with them?
    Ceri recently posted..Scenes from the Museo de Arte Moderno


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