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Florida Reserve Aims to Save Endangered Lemurs

There are 11,000 species of endangered mammals, and the numbers are growing. Some of the 22 species of lemur are among these endangered animals.

Deep in the west Florida wilderness, one hears the sounds of the jungle. If lemurs seem out of place in Florida, it is because they are. Lemurs are native to Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean.

This isolated patch of Florida forest is home to the Lemur Conservation Foundation, one of the few lemur reserves in the world. The reserve opened three years ago, and there are 30 lemurs here.

Penelope Bodry-Sanders became involved with saving lemurs nearly a decade ago, after traveling to Madagascar and learning they are in danger.

"This is not a zoo. This is not a sanctuary. It is a reserve," she says. "We are a breeding facility for these endangered animals." It is also one of the few places in the world to study lemurs.

Laurie Santos, a researcher from Yale University, is assessing the lemur's comprehension of simple tools.

"Not only are they capable of actually using them, but results seem to suggest they actually understand something about them, too," she says.

The lemur, an enchanting but obscure animal getting a little help to survive.