- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Three lemurs at a northeast Iowa zoo at the center of a lawsuit likely have stressful lives being apart from fellow members of their species, a Duke University researcher testified Tuesday.

Peter Klopfer’s testimony came during the second day of the trial of the federal lawsuit against Cricket Hollow Zoo, the Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1Meo7zT ) reports. Several Iowa residents and the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the zoo and its operators, seeking to keep it from possessing endangered species.

The lawsuit alleges that lions, tigers, gray wolves and lemurs at the zoo are under physical and mental distress. California veterinarian Jennifer Conrad testified Monday that all animals at the zoo should be removed and sent to a sanctuary.

Klopfer, who works at the Duke Lemur Center, said the lemurs at Cricket Hollow Zoo are “living miserable lives.” The owners said in court records that the lemurs live in separate cages, but Klopfer said the highly social animals are better suited to live in groups.

The researcher said he looked at photos of the zoo and inspection records, and said the animals are living in small, dirty cages and he was “appalled” by the conditions.



“It would be very unpleasant to the lemurs to have to cope with that,” he said.

At least lemurs have died at the zoo since 2006. Klopfer said the zoo’s environment might leave them more vulnerable to disease and death. Records provided by the zoo say the causes attributed to their deaths included old age and a brain inflammation.

Klopfer said he couldn’t say whether the zoo’s owners were at fault for the lemurs’ deaths, but that current conditions make him “suspicious.”

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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