'Island of Lemurs' explores majesty of endangered species in film

Tue Apr 1, 2014 4:49pm EDT
 
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After the animated lemur King Julien of "Madagascar" captured kids' attentions with his eccentricity, a new film takes them to the real, isolated world of the singing, dancing, mischievous lemurs.

"Island of Lemurs: Madagascar," out in IMAX theaters on Friday, takes audiences on a 3D adventure into the exotic habitat of the lemurs on the island of Madagascar, the only place in the world where they exist in the wild.

The 40-minute film, narrated by Morgan Freeman, explores and educates on the wide-eyed lemurs, a family of primate species that has been around for more than 60 million years, and the journey they took from Africa across the Indian Ocean to Madagascar, where they found a thriving natural habitat.

Freeman, whose calm and authoritative deep voice chronicled "March of the Penguins" in 2005, agreed to narrate the film to express the urgency of saving the planet's wildlife.

"We should all teach our kids about the importance of plain old diversity on the planet. The planet is sustained by diversity and we're killing it all. It's catastrophe," he said.

The film follows primatologist Patricia Wright as she strives to save certain lemur species from extinction, finding mates for the few left in the dense Madagascar forests.

"These extraordinary creatures that live in Madagascar are a lot like us. They have families, they raise their offspring and have problems with their offspring," Wright said.

From the Indri, the largest of the lemurs, to the smallest primate in the world, the mouse lemur, the dancing sifakas and the bamboo lemurs that seek out baby bamboo shoots to snack on, "Island of Lemurs" shows each animal's specific personalities.   Continued...

 
A black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata) born in captivity a month ago is seen at the zoo in Cali March 14, 2011. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga