Monday, September 7, 2015

Another talk at the CCS Fall Meeting!

After giving my presentation on the evolution of hand and tool use at the HBES conference in May, I decided that I needed to utilize opportunities like this more often.  Having met a young researcher from New Mexico State University with similar interests and a willingness to collaborate on the topic of theory of mind in lemurs, I applied to give a talk at the 2015 Fall Meeting of the Comparative Cognition Society (CCS).  My talk was accepted, and the title is "The Little Lemur Who Spoke: Theory of Mind in Lemurs?"  (The abstract is available online, and is found on page 11.)

Anyone familiar with my tales about Obi will know who this talk primarily focuses on.  I hope that in sharing my experiences with him and other lemurs I can convince the academic community to shed some of their biases and take a new look at the lemur mind.

I'm also trying to see if I can give a talk about the lemur mind and cognition on a TED talk.

New lemurs at Moorpark!

America's Teaching Zoo has successfully obtained two new female ring-tailed lemurs, who they hope to pair with Obi.  The arrived at the zoo a few months ago and have been in the Quarantine area since.  Obi was relocated to the cage next to them following their month-long quarantine, and the latest I've heard is that the introduction process is progressing.

Even though I can't see Obi (except faintly, though many layers of fence), I'm happy to know that he's finally getting some new companionship.  I hope the introduction goes well, and I'm looking forward to seeing them on exhibit.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Selected for HBES 2015!

I'm excited to announce that the abstract I submitted was selected, and I will be giving a presentation of my research at the 27th Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES) Conference in Columbia, Missouri.  The title of my talk will be: "The evolution of cognition and hand use in primates: an interdisciplinary perspective".

I may post the abstract a little closer to the date of the presentation.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Back to Wiki

My newest work (and Featured Article candidate) on Wikipedia: Fork-marked lemur.

I'm also working to submit an abstract to the 27th Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES) Conference in hopes of presenting my hypothesis about the origins of object manipulation in simian primates.  As always, this was inspired by Obi and Janga, and my work is dedicated to them.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The passing of a queen

It is with great pain that I share news of Janga's passing.  Around 9:00 pm on 27 November 2014 (Thanksgiving Day), Janga was put down due to quality of life issues pertaining to her recently diagnosed diabetes.  A later necropsy revealed masses on her liver and pancreas, with lab results indicating cancer in 3 cell types.  She was 17 years old.  She was preceded in death by her natal troop, victims of a toxoplasmosis outbreak in December 1998, prior to her arrival at Moorpark in May 2002.  She was survived by Obi (age 20), her sole companion at Moorpark since 2003.  At the time of her passing, she was surrounded (in person or in heart) by her trainers and zoo staff.

Though I couldn't be in the room with her at the end, I waited for news in the vet hospital parking lot for 3 hours.  It felt like an eternity, especially since I knew what was likely to happen.  When I finally got word, my worst fears were confirmed.  Fortunately I got to see her one last time the previous weekend.  I had plans to see her again this Saturday.

Though she antagonized me for most of my year with Obi, I always loved her... even when she made it hard to do so.  I deeply regret thinking of her as a spoiled princess at that time.  During the last month or two of my time at Moorpark, we finally came to understand one another, and things changed radically.  By giving her more control during feeding and eventually trusting her enough to let her greet me with a nose touch, we quickly became close.  When animal turnovers approached, I sincerely think that she hoped to claim me as her new trainer.  She began to put herself between Obi and I, not out of spite or in hopes of getting treats (like she used to), but simply to sit with me and to groom me.  My sweetest memory of her was when she and Obi were licking me and I purred, startling both of them so much that they looked at each other in shock, and then proceeded to groom me meticulously, like I was a lemur.  My most heart-breaking memory of her was our final nose touch on graduation day.

She was the most beautiful and regal lemur I have ever known—a rightful queen who deserved a strong and healthy troop in Madagascar.  She will be sorely missed, particularly by her trainers and Obi, her rock and security blanket.

She will always be my one and only queen.

(Mahajanga or Maha Jenga)
20 March 1997 - 27 November 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A queen dethroned

On Tuesday, November 25, Janga was diagnosed with diabetes.  Over the past few weeks, she had lost a lot of weight, falling to as little as 3 lbs.  I visited this past weekend, ahead of the scheduled tests, unsure if it would be my last time to see her.  She looked horribly frail and insecure, cuddling behind Obi--something usually seen in submissive ring-tailed lemurs.  It really shook me to see this once proud and fiercely dominant female looking so weak.  Yesterday, lab results on her urine indicated the beginning stages of diabetes, but today's blood work showed it was much more advanced.  The hope now is that a new diet and oral medication can halt her weight loss and hopefully restore her to her former glory.

I plan to visit again this weekend.  Needless to say I will be savoring whatever time I have left with my former queen... and, of course, Obi.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy World Lemur Day!

This week (October 25th to 31st, 2014) was the inaugural World Lemur Festival in Madagascar, and today is World Lemur Day!

Richard Branson: Why we love lemurs