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Madagascar Wild

In 1997, thirteen Duke University residents went to Madagascar where they literally went wild. Today, several of them are still running amuck with the locals and their faculty sponsors couldn't be happier.

These Duke residents are critically endangered Black and White Ruffed Lemurs who were raised in captivity at the University's Lemur Center. Their mission in Madagascar was to enrich the gene pool of the native lemur population.

These lemurs are native only to the island of Madagascar, where habitat loss and predation had reduced their numbers to around 35. It's believed at least 50 adults are needed to prevent inbreeding and maintain genetic diversity.

Duke scientists were uncertain how well lemurs raised in captivity could adapt to their natural environment. But not only did they thrive, members of the group have produced at least six offspring so far.

Publicity generated by the success of Duke's lemurs-gone-wild has called attention to the animals' plight. The notoriety has been a boon to efforts to prevent further deforestation and preserve habitat for the lemurs and other rare and endangered species. Which should give us all a reason to celebrate.

Party on, lemurs.

Script by Stephen Webb

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