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Get Up Close with Ringtails, Bush Babies, and More at the Duke Lemur Center

Where: 3705 Erwin Road [map], Durham, NC, United States, 22705
December 26, 2012 at 4:31 PM | by | ()

If you love lemurs and want to see them in their native habitat, you’re going to have to get to the island of Madagascar, where the animals are natives. But if you can’t quite make it to Africa (or Sir Richard Branson's island sanctuary for them), there’s a pretty good plan B: the Duke Lemur Center, at Duke University in Durham, NC, not far from the Raleigh/Durham airport.

The center at Duke is home to the world’s largest sanctuary for prosimian animals, which includes lemurs, bush babies, aye-ayes, and other adorable creatures.

Depending on your level of interest and how far in advance you’re planning your trip, there are several options for touring the facility. The first and most basic is the general tour, which costs $10 per person for adults and takes you through most of the lemurs’ habitat, both indoors and outdoors. (The tours are offered year round, so bring a jacket just in case it’s chilly.)

Though you won’t get to snuggle with any of the critters, this basic tour will give you a lot of opportunities to see them in action. You’ll also be able to take photos everywhere except in the nocturnal animals’ center, where the staff switches day and night so that you have a better shot of spotting some of these rare animals.

If a longer or more up close tour is what you have in mind, there are several options. The $65 Behind the Scenes tour (offered October-April) lets you follow around one of the lemurs’ caretakers and get a closer look at how the center operates. For $350, you can even be a lemur keeper for a day, doing everything from preparing food to cleaning up.

If you’re more about the art than the science, you can spring for the $95 Painting with Lemurs tour, which basically is what it sounds like: you choose some colors, the lemurs walk and jump around on a canvas, and you get to take the finished product home with you.

The basic tours last about an hour and a half, and, yes, there is a gift shop. You know you want a lemur ear headband of your very own. Find out more information and Lemur center visitation details on their official website.

[Photo: swongled]

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