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ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR

Irreverent Ring-tailed Lemurs
Perhaps the most recognizable of all lemurs is the iconic Ring-tailed lemur because it is in zoos around the world. Highly adaptable, they travel in groups of approximately 20. As in all lemur species, the females are dominant. Douglas was able to film Ring-tailed lemurs in the Anja Community Reserve. The lemurs inhabit a canyon lined with sheer cliffs and dotted with huge boulders that create a natural fortress. The small village at Anja's entrance operates the reserve and served as guides and porters for the film team. It's a perfect example of how local communities can prosper by protecting lemurs and drawing in tourism, which is exactly what Dr. Wright has been fostering with her conservation awareness programs.

But Anja is also an extremely difficult location to pull off an IMAX shoot. Negotiating the rough terrain and boulder field with the equipment took great care and often proved precarious.

But the Ring-tailed lemurs are perfectly at home. "One of the funniest sights in Madagascar," says Fellman, "is watching the ringtails sunbathe in the morning. After waking up, they climb to tops of rocks and trees and open their arms wide to catch the sun."

Leaping over huge chasms from one craggy rock formation to the next by day, they curl up on the side of the cliff together at night, forming one massive lemur ball with the babies in the center.

Douglas notes, "They're like skinny raccoons-fast moving characters, happy to steal your breakfast if you don't hang onto it."

Fellman agrees. "They are the cheekiest of the lemurs; they have a lot of attitude. They were not afraid of us. On the contrary, they would come right up and get on the equipment or stand next to us, interested in every little thing we were doing."

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