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Duke Lemur Center, Durham

(4.5/5 based on 220+ reviews on the web)
The Duke Lemur Center (DLC, formerly the Duke University Primate Center) was originally established as an opportunistic collaboration between two biologists, one who was studying maternal behavior in mammals at Duke University and the other who was at Yale, studying biochemical genetics in lemurs. Together, the two investigators conceived the idea of establishing a primate facility in Duke Forest that would combine their research perspectives in order to explore the genetic foundations of primate behavior. The National Science Foundation rewarded their initiative by providing the funds to build a living laboratory where lemurs and their close relatives could be studied intensively and non-invasively. In 1966, the nascent DLC was founded on 80 wooded acres, two miles from the main Duke campus. The DLC assembled the largest living collection of endangered primates in the world, both in numbers of species and in number of individuals. Over its history, the DLC has housed, cared for, and made available for study nearly 4000 animals across 31species of non-human primates including lemurs, lorises and at one point, tarsiers (together, colloquially referred to as prosimian primates). Today, it houses nearly 250 individuals across 21 species. The scientific endeavors at the DLC span a remarkable array of disciplines, from behavior and genomics to physiology and paleontology. Conservation biology is also a major focus and provides the conceptual and operational bridge between the living collections of the DLC and its outreach activities in Madagascar.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • I went to Duke as an undergrad and never saw the Lemur Center. I was missing out. The tour guide did an amazing job taking us through the Center and talking about each of the species of lemurs, includ...  more »
  • The drive in to the center through Duke forest can be a Jurassic moment if the lemurs are making noise. The center has been wonderfully upgraded, mostly for the lemurs. The visit is better for the oth...  more »
  • First time here but will not be the last. Great tour Guide that was informative and friendly. Have to come back in warmer weather for full effect  more »
Google
  • The Lemur Center gives you unprecedented access to witness the great work being done here and time to get up close with their furry residents. This is not a zoo, it’s a living, breathing, research facility for Lemur monkeys, which adds to the experience in many ways. Immediately you'll be able to tell that the guides are very passionate about the work they’re doing here as they walked you around the facility and educate you on its purpose. Our guide was extremely well spoken and informative. The Lemur monkeys were pretty cool and there were many different types. One of the most interesting were the nocturnal monkeys that the group had to go into a dark room with red light to witness. If you’re in the Durham area, make sure that you put this on your list of things to do. Keep in mind you do need reservations and they fill up quickly, so call as soon as you know you’ll be in the area. Also, this review is specifically just for the tour. They offer many different types of programs that we will be sure to check out when we're in the area again. A great experience for the entire family.
  • It was really fun to watch the Lemurs and learn about the Lemurs. However we were not told that we were supposed to book a tour and therefore we had to ask one of the staff to add us to the tour. The staff was fairly rude to us, she was contradicting herself since she told us that there were no spaces left even though she said that the capacity was 17 people and they had only 15 people. The staff added us to the wait list and told us to return. When returning we realized that they had changed staffs and we were treated with a kind staff who added us to the tour. We went on the normal tour however we are going to return and book a WALKING WITH THE LEMUR TOUR next time.
  • An absolutely wonderful place and experience! Thought I might suggest in the gift shop when purchasing items with a debit or credit card, an option to donate to the center! It's so easy to put in a donation amount and easy to do with your card. Thank you for everything!!
  • Largest "collection" of lemurs outside of Madagascar. Be advised that the $12 tour means you are looking at a few lemurs in caged enclosures. Only the more expensive tours/options (upwards of $95) actually get you into the outside enclosures.
  • Great for kids and just as interesting for adults. The tour guides are very knowledgeable. I went on the basic 1hr tour but next time the longer hands on tour would be really fun.