clock 10 am – 5 pm
A family looks into the lemur habitat from above.
Explore | Exhibit

Explore the Wild: Lemurs and Tortoises

Located in Explore the Wild, the Museum’s lemur enclosure is home to seven ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) and five radiated tortoises (Astrochelys radiata). Watch the lemurs scale climbing structures and balancing ropes. Keep your eyes out for the tortoises as they make their way among the grass. A guest-operated zoom camera provides close-up views of these highly active, lively primates and their slower, lower habitat mates. Ring-tailed lemurs and radiated tortoises are both native to Madagascar, and both are considered endangered species.

In bad weather, or when the temperatures are too extreme, our ring-tailed lemurs can choose to stay inside. Temperatures vary more in North Carolina than in Madagascar and the lemurs are most comfortable at temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees. In the winter, the tortoises can be seen at the indoor viewing window.
Three ring-tailed lemurs perch on a wooden platform.

Ring-tailed lemurs

Seven ring-tailed lemurs roam the Museum’s outdoor prosimian playground. Best known for their prominent black and white tail, ring-tailed lemurs are social animals and can often be found grooming or eating together. You might notice our lemurs holding their tails high as they explore the exhibit. Those raised tails function as flags that help to identify and keep the lemur troops together.
Close-up of a radiated tortoise

Radiated tortoises

Because of their striking appearance, radiated tortoises are considered to be one of the most beautiful tortoises alive. This also leaves them vulnerable to smugglers of the exotic pet trade. A radiated tortoise’s pattern is unique—like a fingerprint—but they can be hard to tell apart. Each of the Museum’s tortoises has an ID number marked on its shell.

Living Together is Enrichment

Mixed species exhibits can be beneficial for animals in museum and zoo settings. For our lemurs and tortoises, sharing a habitat with animals that are native to the same area provides a more natural experience, more akin to what they might experience in the wild. Exposure to other species can add variety in an animal’s daily routine, offer stimulation, and even help encourage problem solving behaviors.

Ring-tailed lemur in a tree eats a leaf.

Conservation at the Museum

The lemurs and tortoises living at the Museum are both part of Species Survival Plans (SSP), a collection of zoos and nature centers around the United States committed to the conservation of endangered animals. The SSPs make breeding and non-breeding recommendations to ensure genetic diversity and work on projects that involve education, veterinary care, and field research.

Closeup of a radiated tortoise.