Triangle lemur who starred on popular PBS show dies
Posted November 14, 2014
Christopher Smith, an education specialist at the center, said Zoboomafoo, better known in the Triangle as Jovian, was built for TV.
"He was young, sprightly, energetic, very personable as well," Smith said. "He made the perfect lemur host, especially for a kids show."
Jovian was chosen to star on the show after Martin Kratt went to Duke University and volunteered at the center. Zoboomafoo made appearances in 65 episodes of the show, which is still in syndication.
Jovian had nine children, and employees at the center said he was known for being an exceptional father.
"He was singing to Pia, he was cradling that baby," primate technician supervisor Britt Keith said. "He was holding that baby, grooming that baby. They'd pass the infant back and forth."
The Duke Lemur Center is a key place for research. Lemurs and humans share some DNA, so diseases in both species can be similar. Researchers says studying how lemurs hibernate could help figure out how humans could do the same.
Lemurs are some of the most endangered mammals on the planet. They're only found in the wild in Madagascar, and they've lost about 90 percent of their natural habitat.
The center is home to 243 lemurs and 18 different species.
In his role as Zoboomafoo, Jovian helped educate children and brought awareness to lemurs and their plight.
"Because of Jovian, they're connected to lemurs in ways they weren't before," Smith said. "That makes them more likely to care about the research that's going on here in the Lemur Center. They care about the conservation we're doing in Madagascar to protect lemurs."