Local Man Raising Lemurs for Eventual Release

Friday, May 1st 2009, 5:11 pm
By: News On 6

Chris Howell NewsOn6.com

TAHLEQUAH--Ben Sparks runs the Walkabout Wildlife Sanctuary, and in addition to the care of the other animals ranging from camels to crocodiles, he raises lemurs. He is hoping 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.

‘32 species of lemurs left out of over 70 documented about 40 years ago,' said Ben, ‘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, and with breeding programs like Ben's and one run by Duke University, Ben hopes to have lemurs ready for release within five years.

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.'

You are encouraged to visit the lemurs and countless other exotic animals at Walkabout Wildlife Sanctuary, or to donate your time, supplies or money in this conservation effort.