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Oklahoma Man Works To Save Endangered Lemurs

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One of the two baby lemurs born at Walkabout Wildlife Sanctuary in Tahlequah. One of the two baby lemurs born at Walkabout Wildlife Sanctuary in Tahlequah.
Nahla looks for a banana as her babies cling tightly to her. Nahla looks for a banana as her babies cling tightly to her.
Future offspring to be released in Madagascar reserve. Future offspring to be released in Madagascar reserve.

Chris Howell, NewsOn6.com

TAHLEQUAH, OK -- Ben Sparks runs the Walkabout Wildlife Sanctuary.  In addition to caring for animals ranging from camels to crocodiles, he raises lemurs.  He hopes to breed enough of the friendly little animals to be able to send some back to Madagascar for release into the wild in an effort to save the lemurs from extinction.

"Thirty two species of lemurs left out of over 70 documented about 40 years ago," said Sparks.  "All are critically endangered, their habitat is roughly 10-20 percent left in Madagascar."

Madagascar has agreed to double the reserves set aside for the lemur.  Ben hopes to have lemurs ready for release within five years.  The only other lemur facility in the U.S. is one run by Duke University.

Helping the breeding program in her own way is Nahla, the first lemur at Walkabout Wildlife to successfully breed.  Two weeks ago she had two offspring who now cling tightly to their mother as she paces her enclosure looking for a banana handout from Ben.

"These will stay part of the breeding program," Sparks explained.   "Babies that will be born in three to four years will be prepared for release into the wild.  They're just the beginning of what will be hundreds and hundreds of lemurs."

Walkabout Wildlife Sanctuary encourages you to visit the lemurs and countless other exotic animals there, or to donate your time, supplies or money in this conservation effort.

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