Lemur Center Offers Discount for Employees

Duke employees get a unique experience with lemurs

The red ruffed lemur is just one of many species visitors can see at the Duke Lemur Center. Faculty and staff receive discounts off tours. Photo by Alex Sampson.
The red ruffed lemur is just one of many species visitors can see at the Duke Lemur Center. Faculty and staff receive discounts off tours. Photo by Alex Sampson.

On any given day, Natalie Turner estimates she and her coworkers receive upward of 150 phone calls about jobs at Duke to parking policies as human resource information center specialists.

That's why Turner valued the opportunity last month to find some work-life balance with a visit to the Duke Lemur Center. Turner was able to observe the lemurs in their enclosures on the Lemurs Live Tour with several of her colleagues as part of a staff outing during May's Duke Appreciation activities.

"It can get stressful," Turner said. "Getting an afternoon off the phones - that helped me. It was a great outlet to go out and do that as a nice break and then feel like Duke appreciated us enough to put together an activity for us to do."

It was Turner's first time visiting the Lemur Center, where she enjoyed learning new facts about lemurs from tour guides. She said she had little knowledge about lemurs before seeing them in-person and didn't know about the Lemur Center's efforts to support the animals and their natural habitat in Madagascar.

"It was interesting learning about Duke's involvement in lemur conservation and research," Turner said.

As a Duke employee, Turner gets to enjoy this unique Duke benefit at a savings with PERQS, Duke's employee discount program. All employees with a valid DukeCard ID receive $2 off the Lemurs Live Tour and a 10 percent discount off the Evening with the Experts monthly seminar series.

Niki Barnett, education and development programs manager, said the center had over 20,000 visitors last year, double the amount when she began working there six years ago. She added that providing an educational space for local residents, visitors and Duke community members is valuable because the Lemur Center is such a unique benefit to the area

"The overall goal is to bring awareness to all the good work we do here and in Madagascar," Barnett said. "It's just a great resource to have in your backyard. It's really the only facility of its kind, and it's right here in North Carolina."

Barnett pointed out that the NC Zoo, which houses only two species of lemurs, is over an hour away.

Founded in 1966, the center is the only university-based facility in the world that specifically caters to prosimian primates like ring-tailed lemurs, black and white ruffed lemurs, red ruffed lemurs and Coquerel’s sifaka. The center has helped to protect and preserve lemurs after their near extinction in Madagascar. Since its beginning, the facility has housed nearly 4000 non-human primates across 31 species. It currently houses nearly 250 individuals across 21 species.

Kyle Cavanaugh, Duke's vice president for administration, emphasized how features like the Lemur Center contribute to Duke's appeal.

"One of the unique aspects of working at Duke is the ability of our faculty and staff to engage in some of the Duke treasures," Cavanaugh said. "Access to the Duke Lemur Center at discounted rates is one of those treasures, and I would encourage all our employees and their families to plan a visit during the summer."