World Lemur Day is celebrated on the last Friday of October every year. At Wildlife Madagascar, we are excited to honor these unique, extraordinary, and beautiful animals! Lemurs definitely deserve their own day: they aren’t like any other species on Earth, they capture people’s imaginations and hearts, and they are in serious need of protection. We hope more people come to appreciate and admire lemurs, so we can band together to save them from extinction.

Lemur Lore

The story of lemurs begins over 70 million years ago, long before humans. This was a world when lemur-like animals, the planet’s first primates, roamed Africa along with the dinosaurs. The biggest known from the fossil record was a whopping 187 pounds and about the size of a gorilla. That’s a lot of lemur!

Scientists think that lemur ancestors may have “rafted” on vegetation from mainland Africa to Madagascar. On this island, they were separated from other species and evolved to fit their surroundings. Today’s lemurs are suitably smaller—the largest are about the size of a 3-year-old child. Today, there are about 112 lemur species—many more than most people think! That number changes, though, as more research identifies new species.

Lemurs are currently divided into five taxonomic families:






Home Sweet Habitat

Lemurs live in a wide range of habitats across Madagascar, from tropical wet forests to mountain forests to spiny dry forests. The diets of the different species vary, but fruit, leaves, nectar, and insects make up most of their food.

Because of their eating habits, lemurs are an integral part of the forest ecosystem. As they search for fruits and nectar, they get pollen on their fur and pass it along to pollinate other plants, or they disperse seeds to new areas in their droppings. Many of Madagascar’s flowering plants depend on lemurs to “plant” their next generation!

Oh, Behave!

Most lemurs are highly social and live in extended family groups led by a dominate female. She rules the roost and keeps things in order. Some species are active during the day, foraging for food, soaking up the sun, and interacting with each other. Others love the nightlife, staying away from predators under the cloak of darkness while nabbing insects for their own dinner.

Communication includes a variety of calls, including indri that “sing” some hauntingly beautiful melodies. Lemurs also use scent marking from glands on their wrists, chests, and base of the tail to make announcements. Ring-tailed lemurs are famous for “stink fights,” in which males rub the scent on their tails and flick them at each other to see who backs down!

Conservation Consideration

It’s an alarming fact that 98% of lemur species are endangered, and 31% of species are considered critically endangered, with small and limited populations remaining. Across the island of Madagascar, habitats are being altered and destroyed, giving lemurs fewer and fewer places to live and resources to live on.

Madagascar is also one of the top five countries most affected by human-induced climate change, with increasing droughts, damaging cyclones, and sea level rise, all of which make lemur survival more precarious. And even though it is illegal, lemurs are still hunted for food and captured for the pet trade. These unique animals are under serious pressure.

How to Help Lemurs

With all they are up against, lemurs need your help. These are some of the things you can do to make a difference!

Discover More about Lemurs

Find out more about these lemur species:

Listen to a Podcast!

Our own Dr. Tim Eppley and Tojo Lytah Razafinahefa talk about lemurs and Madagascar with host Jack Baker on Pangolin: The Conservation Podcast

Pangolin: The Conservation Podcast

Visit the Lemur Conservation Network Website

Find out all about the purpose, history, and activities of World Lemur Day from the Lemur Conservation Network, and see how you can participate!