Aquarium Celebrates World Lemur Day On Saturday

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - by Thom Benson

Despite their enthusiastic cavorting and seemingly permanent expressions of joyful curiosity, being a lemur is anything but easy.
 
More than 100 lemur species are known to exist, and all of them can only be found in Madagascar, where they face numerous threats ranging from habitat loss to a rampant pet trade. As a consequence, they are the most imperiled class of mammals on the planet.
 
Every October, however, these charismatic primates are celebrated globally — and their plight in the wild brought to light — during World Lemur Day.
On Saturday, Nov. 4, the Aquarium will shine an even brighter spotlight on its newly arrived Ring-tailed and Red-ruffed Lemurs with a full day of special lemur-focused events and activities.
 
“It is meant to be a very exciting celebration that inspires conservation action,” says Animal Care Specialist II and lemur expert Chelsea Feast. "The more people fall in love with lemurs, the more likely they are to help protect them.”
 
World Lemur Day festivities will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will include a number of additional activities offered free to Aquarium members or with admission to the Aquarium.
 
After watching their acrobatic bounding, guests will be able to see the world through a lemur’s enormous, expressive eyes by creating a lemur mask. Then, they can strike a pose in a lemur photo booth, complete with props. While they’re having fun, visitors will be able to learn more about these imperiled, captivating mammals during three Leaping Lemurs animal encounters — at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. — or by visiting an education station complete with lemur “artifacts.”
 
The Aquarium’s first World Lemur Day party also celebrates the opening in March of the Lemur Forest exhibit. This sprawling addition to the Tropic Cove gallery in the Ocean Journey building replicates the Malagasy rainforest and spiny forest habitats in which Red-ruffs and Ring-tails naturally are found.
 
Ms. Feast recently returned from a two-week trip to Madagascar, where she saw 20 lemur species and witnessed, first-hand, the impact human activity is having on the lemurs’ native habitat. The experience was an eye-opening one.
 
“It absolutely changed my life,” Ms. Feast said. “Every day. I teach people about the severe habitat loss that has occurred in Madagascar, but seeing it with my own eyes was truly heart-wrenching. Ultimately, it has further lit the fire within me to help the Malagasy people, which in turn will help save lemurs from extinction.”
 
This year, the Aquarium entered into a partnership with the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group (MFG), an international consortium of about 30 zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens and other institutions working together to preserve Madagascar’s rich biodiversity. By becoming one of MFG’s managing members, the Aquarium provides annual support to help fuel the group’s conservation efforts in Madagascar. Next year, the Aquarium will serve as host institution for MFG’s annual meeting.
 
To cap off a day celebrating lemur-kind, guests can visit the Ocean Journey gift shop, where a number of items are available that were made in Madagascar. The purchase of these goods helps support MFG’s conservation efforts in the African island nation.
 
And as a special World Lemur Day exclusive offering, visitors also will be able to buy a limited selection of paintings made by the Aquarium’s lemurs.
 
“This is the only day of the year that guests will be able to purchase one,” Ms. Feast said. “People go nuts for animal paintings, so I’m really hoping that will excite our guests and ultimately help protect lemurs in the wild.”
 
World Lemur Day at the Tennessee Aquarium
Saturday, Nov. 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Free with Aquarium membership or admission
 
-        Lemur mask-making station

-        World Lemur Day coloring page station

-        Lemur photo booth with props

-        Special Snapchat filter

-        Leapin’ Lemur programs 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m., & 2:30 p.m.

-        Lemur Artifacts Education Station

-        Special Madagascar-themed animal encounters

-        Ring-tailed Lemur ring toss game

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