WORLD LEMUR DAY
Every year on the last Friday of October, World Lemur Day raises awareness about the need to protect this unique primate. The day also celebrates lemur diversity.
Primates are a group of mammals that include 200 diverse species. Human beings are considered primates. So are monkeys and apes. The lemur is another type of primate. Lemurs are unique primates, however, with different characteristics. Unlike monkeys and apes, lemurs have moist noses. They use their sense of smell to determine if something is safe to eat. Lemurs also use their sense of smell to distinguish between individuals in their social group. There are 112 different species of lemurs, and all are native to Madagascar.
Did You Know?
- The smallest lemurs weigh less than a pound, and the largest weighs about 20 pounds.
- Female lemurs instead of males lead their societies.
- Lemurs are seed dispersers, which help to maintain forest diversity and structure.
- They are the only primates (besides humans) that have blue eyes.
- Lemurs are the world’s oldest living primates.
A lemur’s diet depends on the species. For example, some lemurs eat fruit only, while others eat insects. Some lemurs also eat the gum and sap from trees.
These unique primates are the most endangered mammal. About 98 percent of lemur species are endangered, and 31 percent of lemur species are critically endangered. The ring-tailed lemur is one of the most widely recognized kinds of lemurs. Yet, according to recent statistics, there are only 2,000 to 2,500 ring-tailed lemurs in the wild, which accounts for a 95 percent decrease in the last 17 years.
HOW TO OBSERVE #WorldLemurDay
Every year in Madagascar, a World Lemur Festival is held to raise awareness about the plight of this primate. The festival surrounds the week of World Lemur Day. Zoos and conservation groups worldwide plan lemur exhibits, drawing contests, concerts, parades, face paintings, and lemur trivia and games. To participate:
- Learn more about lemurs and their importance to the ecosystem in Madagascar.
- Donate to a conservation group that helps save lemurs from extinction.
- Watch a movie that features lemurs, such as “Madagascar” or “The Penguins of Madagascar.”
- Go to your local zoo and check out the lemur exhibit.
Share a video or picture of a lemur on social media with #WorldLemurDay.
WORLD LEMUR DAY HISTORY
In 2014, professor Jonah Ratsimbazafy created the World Lemur Festival in Antananarivo, Madagascar. His goal was to raise awareness about the value of lemurs in Madagascar, an island country off the coast of Africa. In 2015 zoos, organizations, and individuals around the world participated in the festival. The day became known as World Lemur Day and is celebrated every year in conjunction with the annual World Lemur Festival.
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