Located 22 kilometers southwest of Antananarivo, Madagascar, Lemurs’ Park is a 5-hectare public botanical garden and lemur reserve area, offering chances to see free-ranging nine lemur species as part of guided tours.


History

The island of Madagascar is well-known for its endemic species of lemurs, primates that predate the development of the suborder Haplorhini, which monkeys, gorillas, and humans belong to. Shortly after the island’s detachment from mainland Africa approximately 160 million years ago, early primates belonging to the suborder Strepsirhini crossed over to the island from Africa. Due to the island’s continued eastward drift between 23 and 17 million years ago, it was isolated from the development of monkey species, which drove lemurs to extinction throughout much of the rest of the world. Today, lemurs are found throughout all of the island’s ecosystems, though all species are listed as endangered due to the island’s challenges with deforestation and over-hunting. More than 60 taxa of lemurs are known to inhabit the island today, with new species discovered on a continual basis. The region is considered to be of the highest importance for primate conservation, with wild primate populations responsible for 21 percent of all primate genera located anywhere in the world.

Lemurs’ Park was established in 2000 by Maxime Allorge, the grandson of Tsimbazaza zoo designer Pierre Boiteau, and his business partner Laurent Amouric. Allorge is noted for his participation in several high-profile nature documentaries, including 1997’s Max and the Chameleons. The botanical garden and zoological park’s lemur populations mostly come from confiscated pet lemurs, which have been entrusted to the park by the country’s Ministry of Water and Forests for ex situ protection and conservation. All lemurs at the park are rehabilitated and bred in free-range conditions in preparation for release back into natural ecosystems. Since 2007, the park has also protected and bred Coquerel’s sifakas.

Attractions and Tours

Today, Lemurs’ Park is managed by Maxime Allorge and Laurent Amouric as a botanical garden and zoological park facility spanning five hectares near the city of Antananarivo. Transportation to the park from downtown Antananarivo is offered via a private park shuttle which operates regularly. The free-range park protects nine species of lemurs, as well as species such as Coquerel’s sifakas. More than 6,000 native pine and bamboo trees and 70 endemic plant species are also located throughout the park’s botanical garden areas, which are divided into separate climatic zones. A vivarium is offered, housing reptiles and amphibians such as chameleons, iguanas, and radiated tortoises, along with visitor amenities such as a gift shop and restaurant.

Visitors may explore the park as part of guided tours, which allow visitors to ask questions about the park and its flora and fauna species. The park is designed to mimic the natural habitat of lemurs and sifakas, allowing free-range movement and breeding for animals. Trails carved in cut stones, created by stonemason artist Philippe Manet, are offered throughout the park, offering panoramic views that allow visitors to observe park animals. Nine species of lemurs are visible throughout the park, including seven diurnal species and two nocturnal species. Each lemur species is grouped into its own park section, along with a section for Coroquel’s sifakas. Daily feeding times for lemurs are offered at 10:00am and 4:00pm, with dance times for sifakas also offered throughout the day. Visitors may not touch or feed lemurs directly, but are allowed to get up close to the animals for photo opportunities.

Park trails also pass waterfalls and other natural features and eventually lead up to a terraced estate, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding environment. A park restaurant serves country lunches and requires reservations 48 hours in advance. The Boutique Park gift shop sells a variety of specially-selected gifts and souvenirs, including raffia crafts, natural silk, hand-cut stone objects, and lemur-themed apparel and gifts.

Ongoing Programs and Education

In addition to standard visitor tours, guided group tours are available for small groups and organizations, including curriculum-incorporated field trip opportunities for school groups. Field trips last approximately one hour and can accommodate up to 100 students at a time, with up to five tour guides available at once. Tours emphasize Madagascar’s natural heritage and the importance of wildlife and ecosystem conservation, including the preservation of endangered lemur species. Tree-planting workshops are also offered for field trip groups, working under the supervision of park gardeners. All students who participate in field trip workshops are given take-home pamphlets that emphasize basic knowledge of native island flora and fauna, the consequences of deforestation, and short-term and long-term conservation techniques. Teacher materials are also available for reinforcing field trip principles with classroom learning activities.

Route d'Ampefy, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar, Phone: +26-13-31-12-52-59

More Things to Do in Madagascar

More vacation ideas: Hudson Valley, Honeymoon Destinations, Brattleboro VT, Maine lighthouses, Long Island, Southwest

More last minute travel: Washington beaches, Duluth, Water parks in Texas, Things to Do in New Braunfels, Long Island