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Behind the Scenes Tour

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Reservations Essential

You must have a prepaid tour reservation to see the lemurs. In order to keep the endangered primates that call the DLC home safe and healthy, we regret that we cannot accommodate any walk-in visitors in any capacity.

All tour reservations can now be made online! Please continue reading below to learn more about our new registration system.


a juvenile aye-aye

If you’ve ever wondered what goes on “behind the curtains” of a world-renowned primate research, education, and conservation center, the DLC’s Behind the Scenes experience is the tour for you! Guests spend the majority of their tour in areas that are typically off-limits to visitors, seeing the DLC through the eyes of its dedicated staff. Your group will see an afternoon feeding for Coquerel’s sifakas, enrichment for grey mouse lemurs, AND this one-of-a-kind experience is the only tour where you can glimpse the amazing aye-aye as they get tasty treats to entice them to show off their unique adaptations!  We work with the animal husbandry team to see where the best places to visit will be that day, and we will also do our best to cater to your group’s specific interests.

This tour is limited to groups of 1-4 people, and all guest must be at least 10 years old. This is a private booking for you and your party, so we can truly focus on your interests and questions. Closed-toed shoes are required. As on all of our tours, for your safety and for the well-being of our lemurs, there will not be any opportunities to touch the animals at any time, and all guests must follow the instructions of their guide at all times.

Please note that, as the name suggests, this tour goes into behind the scenes areas, and that will include many areas with fence or wire barriers between your camera and the lemurs, which is not always conducive to getting photos of your experience. If you are hoping for fabulous photos to commemorate your experience, with no barriers between you, your camera, and the lemurs, we recommend the Walking with Lemurs tour instead.

Age requirements: Participants must be at least 10 years old – we are not able to make any exceptions to this rule. All participants must sign a legal release waiver, and participants age 10-17 must have that waiver signed by a legal guardian. Additionally, participants age 10-15 must be accompanied by a legal guardian. Please note that legal guardian will be included as a paying participant in the total tour cost. Tour participants age 16-17 can attend the tour with another legal adult, not necessarily a legal guardian.

Physical requirements: This tour typically requires walking on both paved and unpaved paths and can include up to 0.5 miles total walking distance and up to 30 minutes of time standing in one place. Guests must remain standing for the entirety of this ~75 minute tour, and closed-toe shoes are required. We are happy to make accommodations for guests who use wheelchairs, canes, or other mobility assistance, but it may impact the areas we can visit on the tour. Please email us at primate@duke.edu to discuss your specific needs and how they might impact what you will see on the tour before you make your reservation.


Cost

The cost is $400 + tax for a single group of up to four people. This will be private tour for your party only, so whether you’re a more solitary primate with a party of one, or a social primate that fills up all four spots with your party, we’re excited to host your visit!

Please note that when you register for this tour, the registration process will only show a single tour availability for each date. Each tour can accommodate up to 4 guests, however the registration process will only have you enter registration information for one individual in your group.

Because tour and scheduling options are limited at this time, we have made our 75-minute virtual tour video series available FREE to everyone around the world.


How to Schedule

This tour will be typically be offered on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 PM, but you can check the links below for current availability. All tour reservations must be made online and prepaid in advance. Please note that you should plan in advance, since these tours are very popular and will fill up quickly. Tour reservations will be released a month at a time with dates posted 6-8 weeks in advance.

To see availability and schedule your visit, please click your desired date range below. We cannot offer a waitlist for tour dates that are sold out, but you are welcome to check back on this page to see if we are able to open up more spots in the future.

October – December 2022 Behind the Scenes Tours

2023 Behind the Scenes Tours 


Refunds and Cancellations

All tour registration fees are non-refundable, but you may reschedule to another date if we receive at least 48 hours’ notice.*

If you or any person in your group are experiencing any COVID symptoms, please notify us immediately, and we will work with you to reschedule or cancel your tour. COVID-related symptoms include any of the following: temperature over 100°F, atypical headache, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, cough, sore throat, muscle or body aches, runny nose (aside from typical seasonal allergies), change in taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. This applies to guests who have been vaccinated as well as those who have not.

*If you need to cancel your tour due to illness and are not able to reschedule, we will make an exception to this policy and refund your tour registration fee.


Cartoon of an aye-aye lemur wearing a mask

Know before You Go

The tour will take place entirely outside, and we will operate rain or shine (within reason). If we encounter severe weather that prevents us from offering the tour safely, we will work with you to reschedule or refund your tour as needed.

We have a small gift shop with many unique items available for purchase.

In order to keep the endangered primates that call the DLC home safe and healthy, all guests must wear a mask at all times while entering any animal housing buildings onsite (snugly covering nose, mouth, and chin). We are not able to accommodate any exemptions to this rule for any reasons – all staff, volunteers, and guests of all ages must wear masks at all times while inside animal housing areas. Disposable masks will be provided to anyone arriving without their own mask.


Vistor FAQ

How to See the Lemurs

All visitors must have a reservation in order to visit the DLC—this includes the grounds and the gift shop, as well as any tour. A prepaid tour reservation is required to see the lemurs. To learn more about onsite tour options and how to reserve your space, please visit our tours homepage.

Gift shop: If you would like to make a reservation to shop in our gift shop separately from a scheduled tour, please contact us at primate@duke.edu. Alternatively, you are welcome to order gift shop merchandise for curbside pick-up or shop online.

Directions

The Duke Lemur Center is located in Duke Forest, less than 10 minutes from Duke’s West Campus. For our GPS address and directions to the Duke Lemur Center, please click here.

Can I Touch a Lemur?

Nope! As cuddly as the animals may appear, our lemurs are wild animals. For the safety of the lemurs and our guests, no visitors are allowed any physical contact with the animals. However, we do welcome flash-free photography—the lemurs can be quite photogenic! (See the "Frequently Asked Questions" tab below for the best tours for photos.)

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to schedule ahead to visit the DLC and see the lemurs? Yes, all tours are by appointment only. Please visit our tours homepage to make your reservation.

What is your weather policy? Tours will go on rain or shine with the exception of threats of lighting in the forecast. Please dress accordingly.

Do I get to touch a lemur on the tour? Nope! As cuddly as the animals may appear, our lemurs are wild animals. For the safety of our animals and our guests, no visitors are allowed any physical contact with the animals. However, we do welcome flash-free photography – the lemurs can be quite photogenic!

I have a scheduled tour, but notice restricted access signs on Lemur Lane. If you have a scheduled tour or gift shop visit, please follow Lemur Lane past the restricted access signs until you reach our parking lot.

Can I take pictures during my tour? Yes, of course! Lemurs are extremely photogenic, and we encourage taking photos for personal enjoyment and to share online! Note, though, that photography is permitted only for noncommercial use and that photos should not be sold, reproduced, transferred, distributed, or otherwise commercially exploited in any way UNLESS the photographer has received permission from the Lemur Center and the Duke University Office of News and Communications. We also cannot allow professional photographers (or guests more generally) to set up tripods/monopods or alternate lighting. If you have questions, please reach out to us and we’ll be happy to clarify further.

Which tour is best for photos? Our Walking with Lemurs premium tour provides the best photo opportunities of our lemurs. Photos are still possible on our General Tour, but be advised that the lemurs will be in their indoor/outdoor housing areas (not free-roaming in the forest) and must be photographed through mesh wire. See the "Enclosures" section below to learn more about how the DLC's lemurs are housed.

Do lemurs make good pets? No. The Duke Lemur Center is against all trade in pet primates, and against the holding of any prosimian—lemurs as well as lorises, bush babies, and pottos—as a pet. There are many reasons lemurs should never be kept as pets, and this also is one of many reasons the DLC does NOT allow guests to touch our animals and why our staff do not touch the lemurs and lorises except when necessary for caring for the animal. This helps us avoid interactions and imagery in media that could promote the idea of lemurs as pets. Lemurs may be habituated to us, but in reality they are undomesticated, wild animals.

Weather

Our tours are exclusively outdoors. Please dress accordingly for weather.

Rainy days: Tours will go out rain or shine provided there is no lightning or thunder in the immediate area.  Umbrellas are welcome. If you would like to reschedule your visit due to weather, please call (919) 401-7240.

Hot days: There are shaded areas along path, but some sections are in direct sunlight—so we highly recommend that you bring sun protection (hats, sunscreen, light long sleeves, and/or umbrellas). Water bottles are welcome and encouraged on the General Tour but cannot be brought into the forest on the Walking with Lemurs Premium Tour. In the interest of health and safety, we will not be offering access to any water fountains or selling any bottled water, so please be sure to bring your own.

Cold days: The lemurs are allowed outside access anytime the weather is 45 degrees or above.  This does not guarantee that the lemurs will choose to be outside, however, as they always have access to indoor heated areas of their enclosures as well.

On cold or rainy days, some of our lemurs will choose to stay cozy in their indoor enclosures. While this is healthiest and best for the individual lemur, it does make it more difficult sometimes to see them on general tours!  As we are first and foremost an educational, not entertainment, facility we will never “force” our lemurs to come out into public view. Our guides will do their best to show you as many species as possible and will share information about each lemur even if he or she isn’t visible on the tour path that day. We strive to provide a fabulous and educational experience for all visitors within the constraints of working with live animals.

Gifts

We also stock an array of unique and highly giftable merchandise, perfect for lemur lovers young and old! Products range from cuddly lemur stuffies (including a sifaka and an aye-aye made exclusively for us!) to apparel, paintings by lemurs, and native Malagasy products.

If you would like to make a reservation to shop in our gift shop separately from a scheduled tour, please contact us at primate@duke.edu.

To purchase online or to arrange curbside pick-up, please visit our merchandise homepage. 

Enclosures

The DLC has two types of enclosures: 1. Natural Habitat Enclosures (NHEs) and 2. Indoor Enclosures with Outdoor Yards. On Walking with Lemurs tours, guests will see lemurs in their NHEs. Our General Tours focus exclusively on the indoor/outdoor enclosures.

Our indoor/outdoor housing areas are specially constructed for the physical and mental health of our lemurs. Each family group of lemurs is housed within a large set of interconnected enclosures and has multiple indoor rooms available to them (heated and cooled, depending on season), which are connected to multiple outdoor yards. For example, a family of 4 lemurs has access to at least 4 ‘sets’ of indoor/outdoor areas, totaling 8 individual enclosures. Different doorways lead into and out of these areas, creating ample space for natural movement and play and giving the animals privacy — away from each other, or away from public view — whenever they desire it. These spaces also help facilitate lemur research (all non-invasive) and care by allowing us to temporarily close off individual rooms within each family’s set of enclosures. This flexibility is brilliant for managing breeding groups and especially new moms and infants, as infant survival rates are significantly higher when mother and baby are separated from the group for a few days and gradually reintroduced when the infant is less vulnerable. Wire fencing between enclosures allows these lemurs to be separate and safe, while also maintaining visual and olfactory contact with the rest of their family.

To keep our lemurs physically and mentally engaged, the indoor/outdoor enclosures are re-branched and re-furnished often to give them new layouts to explore, and special and varied enrichment activities are provided daily. These help promote natural behavior like foraging and promote not just physical health but also mental stimulation and all other aspects of the well-being of the lemurs under our care.

What will you see on each type of tour? Guests on our General Tours see only the outdoor areas of these enclosures. In warmer weather, a large number of our lemurs get to free-range in large forested Natural Habitat Enclosures while also retaining access to their indoor/outdoor enclosures. Guests can see lemurs in their NHEs on the Walking with Lemurs tour.

Accessibility

Wheelchairs, Canes, and Walkers

The DLC's paved tour path (used for the General Tour) and gift shop are ADA accessible. You are welcome to bring wheelchairs, canes, and/or walkers for these tours, although the presence of any novel object, especially wheelchairs, may occasionally affect lemur behavior and result in lemurs choosing not to cooperate as nicely on tours.

If you or a member of your group will be using a wheelchair, cane, or walker on your tour, please let the staff at Lemur Landing know when making your tour reservation.

Above, guests wander the summer tour path during an open house. The summer path is gently sloped, with brick pavers.

Service Dogs

We welcome service dogs on our General Tours, which are along the paved tour path described above.

Guests with medical restrictions or special needs, such as the need to be accompanied by a Service Dog on a tour, must let the staff at Lemur Landing know when making the reservation. Please be aware that, like all novel objects, the presence of a Service Dog may affect lemur behavior. If you have questions, please call us at (919) 401-7240 - we'll be happy to help!

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a Service Animal is “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” Therapy dogs, emotional support dogs and companion dogs are not Service Animals as defined by the ADA. Because the DLC houses endangered primates, we cannot allow pets onsite.

Nut allergies

If you have allergies, please be aware that the DLC keeps peanuts, peanut butter, and tree nuts onsite for lemur food and training rewards. If you are allergic to nuts, please tell the staff at Lemur Landing when booking your tour. Some tour types are more conducive to coming into contact with nuts than other tour types are.

No Pets, Please

For the safety of our lemurs and because the Duke Lemur Center has no pet accommodations such as dog-walking areas, we cannot allow pet animals anywhere on the DLC grounds – even inside your vehicle. For our lemurs’ health and safety and for your pet’s, please leave your pup at home. After your visit to the DLC, we recommend picking up your pooch taking him to one of these dog-friendly Durham destinations instead!

Durham Hotels, Restaurants, and Attractions

For a list of hotels and inns, restaurants and coffee shops, and fun things to do in Durham, please visit the Discover Durham website and the Durham Destination Guide.

For more places to visit on Duke's campus, check out these recommendations. The Duke Lemur Center is approximately 2.5 miles from Duke Chapel and Cameron Indoor Stadium, and approximately 3.5 miles from Duke Gardens and the Nasher Museum of Art.


Questions?

Please call the Lemur Landing front desk at (919) 401-7240 or email primate@duke.edu. We’ll be happy to help!