Prosimian Personalities – Jovian

September 25, 2011

In this series, we’ll help you get to know the animals at the lemur center just as well as the keepers that care for them. You can learn a little about their personalities, likes, and favorite past-times without having to scoop up the poop! We call it “Prosimian Personalities.”

Meet Jovian, a Coquerel’s sifaka. Many of our readers may already know Jovian – he’s a bit of a television superstar, playing the most coveted role for which a lemur could hope as Zoboo on the hit show Zoboomafoo. The popular PBS Kids wildlife learning show created and hosted by the Kratt brothers, Chris and Martin, was partially filmed on site at the Duke Lemur Center, using Jovian as the animal host of the show (along with his Dad, Nigel) . While Jovian cannot talk, sing or dance, at the time of filming Jovian was a very playful, personable sifaka – ideal for a children’s show about animals. Zoboomafoo still airs on PBS Kids Sprout channel.

Zoboomafoo ended production in 2001, and with life on the red carpet over, Jovian has since settled down and fathered 5 kids with mate, Pia, including 2 boys and 3 girls:  Charlemagne, Conrad, Adelaide, Wilhemina and Gisela.

Jovian’s family has seen many changes over the past two years. Charlemagne (Charlie, for short) – after being kicked out of the family group by Jovian – now lives on the summer tour path at the lemur center, giving guests the opportunity to at least meet the son of Zoboo. (A common practice for adult males in the wild is to remove possible competitors from their groups, forcing males who are coming-of-age to find a new group and thus also diversifying the gene pool. Jovian just did what was natural.) Wilhemina travelled cross-country to the Cincinnati Zoo where she was recommended for breeding. Adelaide, unfortunately, succumbed to a bacterial infection earlier this summer. Today, Jovian, Pia, Conrad and Gisela make up the very happy family living in the forest of Natural Habitat Enclosure (NHE) 3.

Out in NHE 3, Jovian can often be found lounging in the sunshine, helping himself to a mimosa – mimosa leaves, that is – and occasionally play-wrestling on the ground with son Conrad.  Jovian absolutely loves living out in the forest. He is strong and able to leap amazing distances through the trees. Sifaka have been known to leap more than 30 feet from tree to tree.

Visitors to the lemur center have an opportunity to meet Jovian on the Walking with Lemurs tour – the immersive excursion into the forest where lemurs free-range. Depending on the day of the tour, guests visit NHE 3 where Jovian jumps, munches, lounges and grooms. If you get to visit NHE 3, try not to feel too star-struck!