August 6, 2011
by Maggie Chu, Duke University student
I don’t know if I could pinpoint what the saddest day of my life is, but I would say at least two of them I connect with the Duke Lemur Center. The first would be the day that Otho died, the second the day that Brutus died. Both were Coquerel’s Sifaka. Otho was the first time I had really seen an animal get really sick and die. For the time that I sat with him, I couldn’t decide if it felt worse to leave him alone or to watch him so diminished from a normal bouncing sifaka. As for Brutus, he was my little shoe-buddy. He sat right around the corner from the cubbies, so that every day when I would come to work and put my work shoes on, I would talk to him. I never saw him suffer because he was already sleeping, but it’s sad to no longer have someone to great me each time I come to work.
That being said, my experience at the DLC has been filled with many more than two joyous occasions. I can remember looking at cute Carolina, a Mongoose Lemur, by ultrasound when she was still in her mother Maddie. I recall helping stitch up a cooperative Cap’n Lee, a Ring-tailed Lemur, who had received such a large fight wound that he had to wear what looked like a hilarious yellow life-vest until he was better. I vividly remember laughing at Ozma, an Aye-aye, chewing on her peanut butter dog bone as we tried to examine her baby, who would then be named Styx. Then there was holding Liesl’s baby, another Ring-tail, watching Margaret and Presley, twin Blue-eyed Black Lemurs, getting fed, and being surrounded by Pyxis’s group of Red-ruff Lemurs when we went to check TB tests. And that’s just to name a few.
There have been sad days, but there have been so many more triumphal days working with the vets at the Lemur Center. Throughout all of the experiences, I have learned so much. I’ve taken part in nutrition, medication, routine exams, surgery and clinical labwork, but what’s more remarkable is watching the vet department come up with ways to treat animals that have we have no medical knowledge about. They do an amazing job, and I’m really honored to be a part of it.