Inspired by Dr. Ian Tattersall’s work with lemurs and alarmed by the species’ spiraling decline, museum educator Penelope Bodry-Sanders incorporated a nonprofit in 1996. Within four years, it opened a nine-acre forested lemur enclosure on land near Myakka City, Florida. An office and research center soon followed.
Bodry-Sanders envisioned a comprehensive conservation initiative where art complements science, research dovetails with education, and a breeding program in the United States provides a safety net for native lemur populations, supporting conservation programs in Madagascar. In 2000, LCF welcomed its first transfers, two critically endangered mongoose lemurs. A year later, the foundation partnered with University of Miami anthropologist Dr. Linda Taylor to host its first field-school program for college students.
The mongoose lemurs produced the first infant at the Myakka City reserve, Alejandro (pictured above), born in 2002.
On the education front, the foundation saw the publication of Ny Alay Ako (Ako the Aye-Aye), the first in a series of children’s books in Malagasy and English written by the late Dr. Alison Jolly and illustrated by Deborah Ross. The Ako Project became the cornerstone of LCF’s conservation education programs in the United States and Madagascar.
LCF continued acquiring land in rural Manatee County, adding roads, ponds, lemur shelters, and a second forest habitat. At the same time, LCF funded a new museum and interpretive center for the Tampolo Reserve in Madagascar. Capping its first decade, LCF earned certification from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as a certified related facility.
Grants and fundraising have enabled LCF to expand and diversify programs. In 2009, Nature’s Path Organic Foods awarded LCF funds to build a classroom-cum-community-center at a forest station in Madagascar. Online, on site, and around Florida, LCF has educated K-12 teachers and hosted the annual workshop and meeting of AZA’s Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group.
What will the next decade bring? LCF’s expanding lemur population—part baby boom, part transfer intake—is driving the development of a third forest enclosure in Myakka City. In Madagascar, LCF launched a new initiative in 2014, collaborating with Madagascar National Parks to mark the borders of Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve and establish Camp Indri, an ecotourism and research camp to help promote and protect the 11 lemur species found in this magnificent reserve.
The Lemur Conservation Foundation (LCF) is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of the primates of Madagascar through managed breeding, scientific research, education, and art.