It’s #WILDWED at Lemur Conservation Foundation!

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Each Wednesday we join over 100 of our Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) colleagues to promote awareness about endangered species, programs, and opportunities to engage with an AZA facility near you.   Today it is LCF’s turn to ‘share!’
Elena at Work

Elena Krapcheva of Madly Video Production made this short video at LCF for our contribution to #WildWed.  CLICK HERE to watch the video on YouTube, or follow us and our AZA friends on Facebook and Twitter – look for your local zoo and aquarium!

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In the video you will see lemurs as they leap and explore their forest habitat at LCF in sunny Myakka City, Florida. The multispecies habitats give the lemurs a naturalistic environment where they can leap from tree to tree, climb around in the canopy, forage for leaves and of course play!

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About Lemur Conservation Foundation: Lemur Conservation Foundation (LCF) was established in 1996 by Penelope Bodry-Sanders. LCF is a leader in the conservation and preservation of the primates of Madagascar through programs dedicated to observation oriented research, education, and lemur propagation, with a commitment to infuse art into all of our mission programs. LCF is an American Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited private, 100-acre facility based in Myakka City, Florida. Our current lemur population representing six species thrives in naturalistic free ranging habitats ranging in size from 9 to 13 acres, and smaller enclosures for animals in need of a more specialized environment. LCF is a respected voice for science, conservation, education, art, and lemurs, the iconic image of the conservation challenges and environmental stewardship facing Madagascar and the world.

Learn more about lemurs on our website


LCF & Jacksonville Zoo Host Workshop For Educators


Zoo and conservation educators from around the state of Florida attended a workshop hosted by LCF and  Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. 

The workshop was designed to introduce zoo and informal educators to the Ako Project: Madagascar Lemur Adventures.   The Ako Project was initiated by LCF, Dr. Alison Jolly, Dr. Hanta Rasamimanana and the University of Madagascar, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, and UNICEF.  Dr. Jolly wrote the text for the six book series for K-5 readers. The books feature different species of lemurs and their habitat. Dr. Rasamimanana, ‘Madagascar’s Lemur Lady,’ created the teacher’s guides and lesson plans, and wildlife artist Deborah Ross illustrated the stories. The books were first published in Malagasy for young people and their teachers in Madagascar to engage with lemur conservation.


The Ako Project, including books, posters and educators guide, promote awareness and support for LCF’s Ako – Certified’ curriculum. It provides an opportunity for educators to observe, model and practice lessons and activities from the Ako curriculum. They have a chance to become familiar with the books, teacher’s guides, posters and classroom activities.

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In 2014 LCF will host Ako Days in local schools. The workshop was an important opportunity for educators to contribute their perspective and experience to our staff, share activities, and discuss future Ako Educator Workshops. Most importantly this special day helped to establish a network of educators within Florida who will introduce The Ako Project to their communities!

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It was a wonderful day and workshop! We had a chance to explore innovative and unique ideas and activities that will inspire students to care about the environment and their impact on this earth.

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Faza Workshop At LCF!


LCF welcomed colleagues from Florida Zoos and Aquariums for a professional development seminar, “What are You Looking At”: Designing a Behavioral Monitoring Project. Special thanks to Katie Leighty, Ph.D., Research Manager, and Gina Ferrie, Research Associate, from Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Gina and Katie helped us conduct the workshop, and Katie also gave an informative presentation on techniques to monitor zoo animals.  We really appreciate their generous help and support and for sharing their professional expertise with everyone who attended.


Animal Husbandry professionals from Florida Zoos and Aquariums came from as far as far away as Panama City – that’s a 6 hour drive to LCF!  Participants came to learn simple behavioral monitoring methods and how they can help answer a variety of husbandry questions. The techniques can be used to monitor animals during introductions, determine the effectiveness of enrichment or training, or to establish behavioral monitoring programs for in-situ conservation projects.


Katherine Leighty, Ph.D., Research Manager at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, made a presentation on the steps of setting up and implementing behavioral observations, such as how to develop an ethogram and how to determine the most efficient and effective way to collect and summarize behavior to answer animal husbandry and management questions.

For the hands-on portion of the workshop participants had a chance to work in groups to develop a project to address a specific management issue, and then implemented their project by monitoring lemurs at the reserve.  They also learned how to track animals using radio telemetry.

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Colony Update! A little lemur matchmaking…

To increase the genetic diversity of the lemur populations, it is important to send our animals to other institutions and to bring new lemurs into our population. A lot of care and consideration goes into managed breeding. There have been many changes to our lemur colony over the past couple of months as we prepare for breeding season. 


Breeding recommendations are made by Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facilities participating in managed breeding programs for each species. For example, LCF’s Animal Care Manager, Alison Grand, Ph.D., manages the Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) stud book, and Patricia Walsh, LCF’s Director of Research and Operations, is the Secretary of the Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group. 

In October of this year,Andres,our 2year old mongoose lemur(Eulemurmongoz) pictured above, was transferred from his family group at LCFto Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. He will be paired with a breeding female there.

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Stella, one of our female ring-tailed lemurs(Lemur catta) transferred to the Lowry Park Zoo. She will be a companion for their male,Gizmo. Molson,who was previously paired with Stella,is now housed with 2 breeding females,Sobe and Sarsaparilla (pictured here). Sobe and Sarsaparilla also came to LCF from the Duke University Lemur Center.

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Last, but certainly not least,we are happy to welcome Wizard,a rare collared lemur (Eulemurcollaris), to our colony. She also came from the Duke University Lemur Center. Wizard will be paired with Olivier,our 3year old male collared lemur. There are very few collard lemur births each year, so we are hoping that LCF’s two breeding pairs (Wizard and Olivier, and Jacques and Lucy) will have success this year. Stay tuned to see how we did with our match-making!

LCF Staff Attend Florida Association Of Zoos And Aquariums Professional Development Workshop


The LCF team traveled to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo to attend the Florida Association of Zoos and Aquariums (FAZA) Animal Care Professional Development Workshop, which focused on positive reinforcement as a form of enrichment for the animals.


Why did the chicken jump through the hula hoop?….The workshop started with a getting to know you section where the entire group was split into teams to try to get their desired animal to move through a hula hoop. These animals included goats, chickens, and goldfish, with the only means of reinforcement included verbal encouragement (which ended up being the lesser of the two positives) and a food source. Some of the groups showed great success, having their chicken easily go back and forth through the hoop, while others had goldfish that were afraid of the food – thus making it nearly impossible to work with. Great fun and a many laughs were had in our endeavors with our assigned animals.


Two presentations were given that directly influence our work as animal caretakers. The first was a presentation by Dr. Mark Lewis on how enrichment encourages brain and social activity in mice, and how that can be translated to different animals, including humans. Those mice that were exposed to enrichment had a lower level of repetitive behavior typically brought on through stressful situations  – in this case, things like doing backflips and jumping. Those that were not exposed to enrichment saw significantly higher levels of these repetitive behaviors. These insights allow us to better understand the importance of keeping our animals in enriching environments to ensure the best quality of life. Another presentation was on fire ants, a common problem here in Florida. It was an in-depth look at the life of the fire ant, and even got down to the personal level of each ant’s role in the colony!


Conservation Is Our Middle Name: A New Zoo Research Journal Launches Today!


Dr. Andrea Fidgett of the Chester Zoo announced that the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) published the first edition of  the Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research:

I’m delighted to share with everyone the launch of EAZA’s new journal – the first issue of the Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research (JZAR) is available online, for free!
A significant advance for EAZA, the launch of this journal in itself is not the most noteworthy aspect. JZAR is the first and – so far – the only scientific journal that focuses on zoo-based research AND is fully Open Access with NO author contributions. The journal is freely available to anyone interested in zoos and zoo research in particular, and anyone can contribute research papers free of charge. Most of the work is done by research staff of EAZA member zoos, and everything that has to be paid for is covered by EAZA.
Research categories include studies in pure and applied biological sciences (e.g. behaviour, genetics, medicine, nutrition, population management and reproduction), in-situ conservation research (e.g. socio-economic and field surveys) and research aimed at developing other roles of zoos and aquariums (e.g. visitor learning and marketing surveys). A section of the Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research will be devoted to submissions of original, previously unpublished, case studies documenting the effects of husbandry interventions.
The first issue of JZAR was produced by members of the EAZA Research Committee and the BIAZA Research Committee (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) who made up the interim editorial board.  JZAR will be published quarterly. If you are interested in learning about the wonderful world of zoo science or you have the urge to submit a research article, please visit the journal website
Read the current issue here:

Learn how you can contribute here:

Tails From Myakka City: Moving Lemurs from enclosures into the forests

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LCF participates with several AZA Species Survival Plans, or SSP’s.   ‘The mission of an AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program is to cooperatively manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species population withinAZA-accredited Zoos and Aquariums, Certified Related Facilities, and approved non-member participants.’ – AZA READ MORE HERE about AZA Specis Survival Plans

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The goal of SSP’s is successful breeding of lemurs, some of the most endangered species in the world.  Each lemur is genetically precious, and annual plans consider many important criteria like the available lemurs, their health and location, and each species conservation status.  The plans pair lemurs with the best ‘matches’ for each species.  A 2013 SSP breeding recommendation is Red Ruffed lemurs, like these two at the LCF Myakka City Reserve.    In these pictures, LCF team members are moving 2 red ruffed lemurs from an enclosure to the forest where they can ‘free-range.’

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A ‘craisin’ in the crate can be sufficient motivation for a lemur that is trained to enter a crate…

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other times a little more coaxing  is required.

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Both lemurs are safely crated and ready for the move to the forest dome habitats.

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The trip from the enclosures to the forests takes a few minutes on foot. This pair of red ruffed lemurs, Tsikey and Ravena, arrive at the forest dome where more LCF team members are ready and waiting.

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The crate doors are opened, and Tsikey and Ravena are free to roam inside the dome habitats and to enjoy our native Florida forests.

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They can take their time and explore their new surroundings. The forests are enclosed and staff undertake safety inspections daily. Each lemur wears a radio collar for tracking. LCF animal husbandry staff visit each dome every day to observe and document every lemur’s health and well-being.

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Lemurs in the LCF Myakka City Reserve forest live in a multi-species habitat that mimics  their home in the forests of Madagascar. You can see red ruffed and ring-tailed lemurs in this photo.

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The domes provide an interior environment, the open air enclosure area, and free access to the forests.  LCF is one of few reserves where lemurs can free-range.  The reserve has achieved important successes with Species Survival Plans, including births in the forest.   We are working to increase our effectiveness and results with each of our breeding pairs in their forest home.

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Conservation Is Our Middle Name: Volunteer at LCF Myakka City Lemur Reserve!

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Would you like to volunteer at LCF’s Myakka City Lemur Reserve? There are a lot of projects to help with! Send us an email…let’s talk about some great opportunities to do some important work in lemur conservation! Email to LCF Director, Research and Operations at:

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Science At The Reserve: Alison Grand, Ph.D. Joins LCF

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We are thrilled to welcome Alison Grand, Ph.D., to the LCF team! Alison will join us in Myakka City as Animal Care Manger. She comes to us from Disney’s Animal Kingdom where she was a Research Fellow. At Animal Kingdom Alison conducted behavioral research projects with a variety of species. While at Disney Alison developed, implemented, and evaluated conservation programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Other major projects included developing and evaluating conservation education programs, gorilla behavior monitoring, and turtle cognition.

Alison holds a BA in Psychology, an MS in Neuroscience, and earned her doctorate degree in Neuroscience and Behavior from the University of Georgia. After completing her doctorate degree Alison conducted research for an NIMH grant at Emory University. She was a post doctoral Scholar at UCLA where she conducted and supervised research at the UCLA/Wake Forest University Vervet Research colony. Welcome Alison!

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