Duke Lemur Center welcomes 3 new endangered baby lemurs

(WTVD photo)

Local researchers at the Duke Lemur Center are celebrating the birth of three new lemurs from two critically endangered lemur species.

Lemurs excitedly jumped from tree to tree to welcome new additions to the forest.

CLICK HERE to see a video and more from WTVD Those additions are three new, adorable baby lemurs. McKinnon and Poehler are two new female, blue-eyed black lemurs (both named after SNL actresses) and they're joined by their new friend Nacho, a male mongoose lemur. Researchers said the birth of the two new blue-eyed lemurs is a big deal because there are only four breeding females in North America and three of them are at Duke. "Blue-eyed black lemurs are among the most critically endangered of the lemurs and they are threatened by habitat loss," Sara Clark, Communications Director for the Duke Lemur Center, said. Clark said their homes are under threat of wildfire from local rice farmers and others are being killed for their meat by impoverished people. "It was estimated in 2015 that the blue-eyed black lemur would be extinct in the wild within 11 years," Clark said. The Duke Lemur Center hopes to turn that around, not only by coming up with a species survival plan for the 15 species they house but also through their work to protect those in Madagascar. But why lemurs? Well, they are the oldest primate in existence, and they share much more in common with us than one might think. "Mouse lemurs are very interesting in that just like us, they can show signs of dementia and Alzheimer's-like symptoms as they age," Clark said. "So by studying them, we can learn more about Alzheimer's in humans." As they continue to study lemurs non-invasively to help humans, they hope humans will be able to help lemurs simply survive.

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