May 18, 2012 | 5
Shaquille O’Neil, one of the world’s most recognizable professional basketball players has used his stature to highlight one of the world’s smallest primates: the mouse lemur from Madagascar.
Shaq, an NBA legend who retired last year and earned a doctorate degree in education from Barry University in 2012, posed with a mouse lemur at Zoo Miami in March to advocate for Centre ValBio, a non-profit conservation organization based in the rainforests of Madagascar. Under the direction of primatologist Dr. Patricia Wright, Centre ValBio aims to better understand and protect the island’s endangered wildlife and habitats.
Fuggles the lemur was on loan from the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina, traveling down to Florida with two handlers and copious supplies of mealworms. Both institutions – Centre ValBio and Duke Lemur Center – are doing excellent work with the people of Madagascar to preserve endangered species habitat through education and economic development. CVB has also built a research facility there.
Mayor has been working in Madagascar since 1997 and has been involved in primate conservation for over 15 years. The idea to photograph one of the world’s largest primates (Shaq) with the world’s smallest came to her when she looked at a National Geographic photograph taken of her and a mouse lemur she co-discovered in northern Madagascar in 2000 (Microcebus mittermieri).
All photos by Ron Magill.