The Original Treehuggers: A Gift from Artist Arriyan Peagler

Arriyan Peagler with “The Original Treehuggers”

The Duke Lemur Center received a very special gift today! Artist Arriyan Peagler, pictured here in front of Lemur Landing, drove from Virginia to deliver his incredible DLC-inspired sculpture, “The Original Treehuggers”!

Arriyan visited the Duke Lemur Center in 2014 and fell in love with not just the animals but also the kindness of the staff. One of the DLC’s tour guides, sensing the artist was having trouble keeping pace with his tour group while also sketching the lemurs, invited Arriyan back onto the tour path to finish his drawings before heading back home to VA. From those sketches, Arriyan’s sculpture “The Original Treehuggers” was born! The sculpture, he says, signifies that lemurs – our most ancient primate cousins – “were the first inhabitants of trees and therefore the original treehuggers of planet earth.” The 5-foot-tall sculpture is carved from a single log of sycamore and mounted on a granite base. A project like this one, Arriyan estimates, takes about 4 weeks to complete – though this one took longer.

The sculpture is permanently on display in the DLC’s visitor center, Lemur Landing. Please stop by sometime to see it, or check it out when you’re here for your next tour! Beautiful close-up images of “The Original Treehuggers” are also available on Arriyan’s website,

After delivering the sculpture, Arriyan joined us for a Walking with Lemurs tour where we saw lemurs literally “hugging the trees” on this gorgeous May day!

Thank you so much, Arriyan, for such a thoughtful and generous gift. It’ll be a treasured part of the DLC for many, many years to come!

Arriyan with a ring-tail lemur in one of the DLC’s naturally forested habitats.

Arriyan’s “Walking with Lemurs” tour group ventures into the forest – with ring-tail lemur Aristides trotting alongside!