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ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR

Mouse Lemurs
As rare as the Greater Bamboo lemurs were, filmmakers interacted with an abundance of Mouse lemurs in Ranomafana. Dr. Wright's study at Centre ValBio includes 500 micro-chipped lemurs that scientists have been following for a decade. Douglas wanted to show the importance of studying lemurs for scientific advancement, and filmed the scientists capturing the Mouse lemurs and taking data. The Mouse lemur is the smallest primate in the world but it still has the same genetic foundation of all primates, including humans.

Douglas cites, "You can see us in their little hands and the spacing of their eyes and their stereo vision and the size of their brain. A lot of these lemurs have natural resistances to different diseases and if they disappear with that genetic capacity, we lose out as well." Mouse lemurs in captivity are one of the few animals that have been documented getting Alzheimer's; by conducting a long-term study of wild populations, Dr. Wright and her colleagues hope to analyze the difference between captive and wild populations to search for clues for the disease's cause.

The humane capture of the Mouse lemurs is made possible by little metal traps with bananas in them which entice the lemurs. The scientists bring the box cages back to the lab at Centre ValBio and examine the lemurs and take their data. "One moment they're bounding around the forest, the next they're being carried off and probed by strange giants," Fellman remembers. "It reminded the crew of alien abductions and so we worked that feeling into the scene.

It's all done in dim light, because the Mouse lemur is nocturnal, so it feels very sci-fi. What is surprising is that many of the same Mouse lemurs are caught every night," Fellman smiles. "It's hard to escape the mysterious lure of the banana."

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