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Lemur escapes on five-hour ramble in Durham

Posted May 24, 2013

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— A red-ruffed lemur escaped from the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, taking a five-hour jaunt about town before it was corralled in someone’s garage.

“Today is his birthday,” Greg Dye, operations manager at the center, said about the animal, named Avion. “He was born five years ago, so this may be a birthday party that got out of control. We’re not sure, but we’re not taking any chances, either.”

Avion is among the free-range lemurs at the center and wears a radio collar. But staffers said the signal was intermittent Friday, making it difficult to track down the wily primate.

The search for Avion, who weighs 10 pounds, was also challenging because lemurs like to travel very high in trees, Dye said. Crews searched mainly by ground and used binoculars to try to spot the animal. It was unclear how he escaped.

“A member of the community called and said they saw a lemur crossing the road near the Lemur Center,” Dye said.

But it was another call from a resident that brought Avion’s adventure to an abrupt end. Staffers found the lemur in a homeowner’s garage, about a mile and half from the center.

Created in 1966, the center is the world’s largest sanctuary for rare and endangered prosimian primates. The center is home to about 250 animals, including 233 lemurs encompassing 15 species, along with lorises from India and Southeast Asia and bushbabies from Africa.

“Our entire collection here at the Lemur Center is endangered,” Dye said. “It means every single animal here is incredibly valuable to the survival of their species.”


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  • geosol May 24, 2013

    Lemurs are cool!

  • amenmike May 24, 2013

    No Yankee1, he didn't want out of Durham, he wanted to get out and see Durham and the wonderful and amazing things in this great city. Perhaps the lemur wanted to take in a show at the top selling theater in the US or maybe visit one of Durham's fine restaurants or watch the ACC baseball tourney at the ballpark. We'll leave the door open if you ever want to come see for yourself just how great Durham is.

  • Sweet Angel May 24, 2013

    He is adorable....Im glad he was found safe.

  • Walkin Man May 24, 2013

    Found in a garage? Probably looking for a get-away car!

  • rocheccw May 24, 2013

    Well it's his B-Day...So you know he's likes to move it, move it!!!

  • Obamacare survives May 24, 2013

    Whoa.....that thing is so cool looking! I want one!