Major + Principal Gifts

Duke Lemur Center for LIFE

These principal ($1M and up) and major ($100,000 – $1M) gift opportunities provide powerful, new and exciting directions for the Duke Lemur Center to expand its reach and positive impact on scientific discovery, student experiences, Madagascar conservation – and the protection of lemurs, the most endangered mammal group on Earth. For more information on these opportunities, please contact the DLC’s development officer, Mary Paisley, at (919) 401-7252 or She would love to talk with you!

Named lemur medical center

A gift of $10 million will build a Named Medical Center at the DLC, providing state-of-the-art care for the DLC’s irreplaceable colony of lemurs; huge potential for new discoveries in lemur medicine and research; and world-class teaching and training opportunities that will improve the care of lemurs at zoos and conservation centers around the world.

As the global authority on lemur veterinary medicine, the Duke Lemur Center has the potential to provide undergraduate and professional students with educational opportunities unmatched anywhere else.

State-of-the-Art Care

Expanded laboratory and surgery spaces, examination rooms, and recovery areas will provide state-of-the-art care for the DLC's irreplaceable colony of lemurs and lorises.

A separate, dedicated quarantine and isolation space will improve our ability to isolate certain animals as needed, and provide a critical first line of defense against deadly viruses that could spread throughout the colony.

Teaching + Training Opportunities

The new Medical Center will showcase the DLC’s expert care of lemurs in a state-of-the-art space that will purposefully engage visiting animal care experts, educators, scientists, and students -- experiences that will only be found at the Duke Lemur Center, on the campus of Duke University:

1. A larger conference room and new open workstations will accommodate visiting professionals who are consulting with DLC vets on difficult procedures, as well as students, researchers, and animal care professionals (such as zookeepers) studying lemur medicine and care.

2. An expanded meeting space will facilitate even greater collaboration between DLC husbandry staff, veterinarians, and research staff.

3. Observation areas along the main tour path will promote public interest and engagement by encouraging visitors to watch, listen to, and learn from DLC veterinarians and animal care staff.

New Discoveries in Lemur Medicine + Research

A dedicated medical center will enable the DLC to attract more competitive and innovative non-invasive research projects, with the goal of promoting longer, better lives for lemurs at Duke and beyond. What we learn here in Durham, NC is shared with zoos and other institutions around the world -- thus a new medical center here could have global impact.


Named research wing with microbiome center + hibernaculum

A gift of $7 million will build a new Research Wing with microbiome center as an addition to the DLC’s main building, consisting of multiple climate-controlled rooms — each a “blank canvas” to be built upon as needed to accommodate diverse research projects; as well as a 2,400-square-foot addition to the DLC’s existing Nocturnal Building, which will provide additional housing and research space for mouse lemurs and dwarf lemurs.

The more we learn about lemurs, the better we can protect them in the wild, care for them in captivity, and engage the public to care and to participate in their conservation.


Since 1966, the Duke Lemur Center has built its reputation as a world leader in understanding and caring for lemurs, and our expertise is sought and respected by zoos and other institutions around the world. By researching the variables that most affect lemurs' health, reproduction, and social dynamics here at the DLC, we can help improve the care of lemurs here, in zoos and conservation facilities in Madagascar, and beyond. We can also learn how to most effectively focus our in-situ conservation efforts, protecting wild lemur populations in the forests of Madagascar.

Non-invasive research on the DLC's lemurs has huge potential for human health, too! As primates, lemurs are a much closer genetic match to humans than lab mice are -- and our research could have major implications for the treatment of human diseases like Crohn's, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's. The DLC is the only place in the world with the animals and the expertise required for this research; we need only the facilities to make it happen.

Learn more about the DLC's research department HERE. Above, a student conducts sifaka locomotion research. All DLC research is non-invasive: We do not allow research that will harm our animals in any way.

Hibernation Research

Dwarf lemurs are the world's only hibernating primates. Hibernation research at the DLC could help the U.S. military lessen the effects of sleep deprivation in soldiers on long combat missions. NASA is studying primate hibernation due to its implications for deep space travel and potential for slowing the aging process. Could humans be sent into a deep hibernation that would carry them hundreds of years into the future?

To learn more about fat-tailed dwarf lemur hibernation, please click HERE.

Alzheimer's Research

Mouse lemurs are one of the only primates known to develop both the physical (i.e., plaques and tangles) and behavioral (i.e., cognitive decline with aging) attributes of Alzheimer's disease. The DLC's non-invasive research on mouse lemurs could help explain the initial stages of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's, ultimately helping us identify people at risk sooner or pointing to new ways to delay onset or slow progression of the disease. Moreover, given mouse lemurs' relatively short lifespans, they make an ideal model organism for studying primate aging within a tractable time frame (e.g., within the temporal scope of a Ph.D. project, investigators can follow individual animals from early middle age to great old age).

While this proposal was recommended for funding by the Comparative Medicine program at the NIH, it was overturned by the Director of the Office of Research Infrastructure largely due to the non-invasive research policies of the DLC: we will not sacrifice our animals for research. A private funding source would revive hope for this important need at DLC.

Learn more about Alzheimer's research with the DLC's mouse lemurs by clicking HERE. Or, click the image above to watch the video "Why Study Mouse Lemurs?", produced by Duke University in February 2018.

Microbiome Research

Lemurs' gut microbiome affects their digestion, immune system function, and brain health. Gut microbiome research at the DLC would have a huge positive impact on lemurs' health, from improved dietary guidelines for captive lemurs to the prevention of potentially deadly diseases like cryptosporidia. The research could have implications for human health, too, such as new treatments for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Higher Quality, More Diverse Research

Expanded research space will also enable the DLC to accommodate more diverse research projects from students and scholars at Duke and around the world. Because the space will consist of multiple climate-controlled rooms, each room can function as an independent "blank canvas" to be built upon as needed to accommodate individual projects. This is necessary for studies that require a specific design (locomotion studies) or a specific environment (hibernation/torpor, behavioral thermoregulation, metabolic studies). There is significant and long-term interest in these types of studies, but researchers are limited in the scope of their research design due to logistical issues with our current facilities.

Similarly, a new facility would also increase the quality of in-house research done by experts on the DLC staff.


Named wing – Expanded housing for diurnal lemurs

A gift of $3.5 million will enable the Duke Lemur Center to expand its conservation breeding program by adding a new wing onto Miaro, one of our existing animal housing areas. With these 20 new enclosures, the DLC could expand its conservation breeding program for species other institutions don’t have the expertise to house and care for, especially the critically endangered Coquerel’s sifaka.

Lemurs are the most threatened mammals on earth. Help us expand our conservation breeding program to preserve their genetic health as we actively seek to stem the tide of extinction.

Genetic Safety Net

The DLC's lemurs form a "genetic safety net" for their species, which teeter on the edge of extinction in Madagascar. Ultimately, more housing equals more infants. More infants means more genetic diversity within our colony. The more genetically diverse a population is, the more resilient it is, the healthier it is, and the more adaptable it is to environmental pressures -- crucial factors in the fight to protect lemurs from extinction.

A healthy, genetically diverse remnant population of Coquerel's sifakas and other endangered diurnal lemurs at the Duke Lemur Center ensures that, even if these lemurs go extinct in the wild, they will continue to survive -- and thrive -- at the DLC. They will not be lost forever. 

Learn more about the Duke Lemur Center's conservation breeding program HERE.

Possibility of Future Reintroduction

A healthy population of lemurs here buys us time as we continue our critical conservation work in Madagascar, and preserves the possibility of these species future reintroduction into their native habitat.


Additional naming opportunities + endowments

Named directorship endowment: $2.5 million will endow the Director’s position.

Named Madagascar Programs Researchers Endowment: $2.5 million will provide ongoing funding toward researchers’ time devoted to conservation efforts in Madagascar.

Named Veterinarian Endowment: $2 million will endow the position of one staff veterinarian.

$30 million will secure the future of the Duke Lemur Center: Name the Duke Lemur Center!

$10 million for a Duke Lemur Center Visitor’s Center and Paleo Lab (new structure)


Major gift opportunities ($100,000 – $1M)

Primate Torpor Laboratory - $700,000

The DLC houses several species of lemurs that torpor (a complex form of hibernation) annually and provide researchers with a very rare glimpse into this physiological adaption. The Primate Torpor Laboratory (PTL) is specifically designed to induce and study torpor in primates by providing state-of-the-art climate-controlled environments. These environments can be adjusted as needed by researchers to better understand the torpor response. Since lemurs are distant relatives of human primates, the research being conducted in this laboratory has direct implications on the human condition, including identifying more effective ways to treat traumatic injuries and making multiyear manned space travel feasible.

Multidisciplinary Research Laboratory - $500,000

With a commitment to non-invasive research, the DLC is in need of a research space that reflects our mission and standards. The Multidisciplinary Research Laboratory (MRL) will maximize the quality of data collection and flexibility in the number and types of projects that can be accommodated, thus promoting future growth in the Duke Lemur Center’s research mission. The MRL is comprised of four component areas:  a 430 ft² Research Room that includes a dedicated Locomotion Research Run for biomechanical studies; a 116 ft² Research Support Area that will provide space for a research lab bench and a staging area for animal trials; a 204 ft² Annex to accommodate additional biosample freezers and critical storage space for gloves and other disposables; and a 45 ft² Unisex Bathroom.

This new laboratory space replaces an antiquated research room with a state-of-art facility that will facilitate better research design and data collection while increasing the number of research proposals the DLC can accommodate.

Additional Natural Habitat Enclosures for Free-Ranging Lemurs - $300,000

A unique feature of the DLC is the ability to allow animals to live seasonally in a free-range forested setting. The DLC maintains approximately 50 acres of Natural Habitat Enclosures (NHEs), in which approximately 100 lemurs free-range in large tracts of forest and live in natural social groups. Not only is this beneficial to the lemurs, but it also offers offers hundreds of researchers the rare opportunity to observe the same behaviors and social structures that could otherwise be observed only in Madagascar. 

Currently, we have nine NHEs varying in size from 2 -14 acres. Recent research suggests that the majority of the space in the larger enclosures goes unused by the lemurs. With the requested funds, the DLC will create additional forested enclosures by redesigning its three largest NHEs. By increasing the number of smaller enclosures, more animals will have the opportunity to free-range, which improves their overall health and well-being and encourages them to maintain their natural behaviors.

Free-Ranging Support Building - $275,000

A unique feature of the DLC is the ability to allow animals to live seasonally in a free-range forested setting. The DLC maintains approximately 50 acres of Natural Habitat Enclosures (NHEs), in which approximately 100 lemurs free-range in large tracts of forest and live in natural social groups. 

The effort and equipment needed to maintain these enclosures is enormous. A new ~3,000-square-foot facility is needed to house and maintain the equipment as well as to provide a climate-controlled workspace for the DLC maintenance staff.

Diagnostic Imaging Lab - $175,000

The DLC’s current diagnostic imaging lab is dated and needs to be upgraded to better diagnose and treat the lemurs living at the DLC. The current diagnostic lab utilizes traditional X-ray equipment and can be unreliable at times. The new imaging lab will be made up of state-of-the-art dental and body digital imaging and information storage equipment that will provide the veterinarians with better images and diagnostic capabilities. This project directly enhances the quality of health care for all of our lemurs.

Madagascar Strategic Initiatives - $100,000

$100,000 will fund an exciting initiative for the DLC. Andrea Katz (Trinity ‘77),  DLC’s Curator for the past 10 years and formerly DLC Conservation Coordinator based in Madagascar, will be working with colleagues in Madagascar’s Wildlife Department, Malagasy lemur parks, and collaborating organizations to bring best practices in lemur husbandry and management to the country’s ex-situ lemur populations. This project will link the DLC staff’s expertise in captive conservation to urgent needs for improved lemur welfare and conservation breeding programs in Madagascar.

Currently 650 lemurs, including many of the most endangered species, are held in 15 private lemur parks and zoos in Madagascar. However, there is little in-country expertise on how best to care for these animals and cooperatively manage in-country breeding programs as a genetic safety against the extinction of lemur species in the wild. In the U.S., Studbooks and Species Survival Plans have led to well-managed, sustainable populations of lemurs, and our goal is to provide capacity building for Madagascar’s conservation professionals to develop comparable programs in their own right.

Learn more about this incredible new conservation project HERE.

Preserving the Division of Fossil Primates’ Madagascar Fossil Collection - $100,000

The DLC’s Division of Fossil Primates (DFP) is home to the most valuable fossil primate collection in the world. One collection, the fossils of Madagascar, is the most extensive and accessible found anywhere in the world. This project will improve how the fossils are stored to prevent degradation due to fluctuations in in temperature and humidity. It will also create greater access to the global scientific community and students via 3D scanning and posting to the DFP’s digital collection of fossil images.


For more details on any of the opportunities above, please contact Mary Paisley at 919.401.7252 or Thank you so much for your support!








Tours + Education