What it is: The Duke Lemur Center is the largest sanctuary for prosimian primates (mainly lemurs) in the world. The center is used to encourage research and understanding about these endangered creatures. It is also a great place to take kids to learn about lemurs specifically and also the issue of endangered animals.
The center gives tours most days of the week, but you need to call to arrange a tour. I've been on tours with just adults, elementary age kids, and most recently with my sons and their friends who range in age between one and three years old. They are really able to cater their tour to the ages of their guests. For example, for the older tour guests there is a short video at the beginning of the tour, but they skipped that for the little ones. The tour guides can give you a lot of good information as you travel from cage to cage visiting the lemurs, but they didn't give the little ones a lot of information that was over their heads.
On the tour you pass by all of the lemurs and get a description of each of them. You even get to see the actual lemur from Zoboomafoo the children's series! We saw quite a few lemurs that were actively jumping around their cage and heard some pretty noisy sound effects coming from others. At the end of the tour, you get to go into the habitat of the nocturnal animals. This gave a really interesting glimpse of animals that are rarely visible.
**There is also a tour available for adults and kids over 10 in which you can actually go into the lemur's natural habitat areas of the center where you can truly walk with the lemurs. It's quite expensive, but it was well worth it when we were able to do it several years ago.
What we liked: We loved having the unique opportunity to get to see the animals close up. In addition, since the tours were so catered to the age groups the toddlers were interested the whole time and the pace was appropriate.
What we would change: One difficulty is that you can't just show up, you have to schedule a tour in advance which can take a little more time and planning. In addition, it does cost money with tickets at $10 for adults and $7 for kids ages 3-12.
Website and other important information:
Address: 3705 Erwin Rd., Durham, NC 27705
Phone Number: (919) 489-3364
3. and more Lemurs!
4. A view of the Lemur Center visitor center