BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — A Bloomington family had quite the surprise Thursday when they discovered “King Julian,” a ring-tailed lemur, hiding out in their garage.
“He had gotten loose from somewhere and apparently chosen and needed a warm place and went into their garage,” said Jay Pratte, Miller Park Zoo Director.
The family had heard suspicious sounds Wednesday night but didn’t investigate right away. When they found the lemur, they reached out to the Illinois Conservation Police to rescue their surprise guest, who they had named King Julian after the character in the “Madagascar” movies.
The Illinois Conservation Police worked with Miller Park Zoo staff to safely capture Julian and transport him to Miller Park Zoo, where he is being cared for by their expert staff.
“I greatly appreciate that the family asked for help in recovering this animal,” said Pratte. “We will work with the IDNR on the next steps of King Julian’s journey.”
As of Friday, officials are unsure of where the lemur came from. Illinois Conservation Police are working with local authorities to investigate ownership and permitting.
Ring-tailed lemurs are native to the island of Madagascar and are currently listed as “Endangered” by the IUCN Red List. They are not domesticated and should not be kept as pets.
“He has a lemur brain a baby tiger has a tiger brain. They need to develop and learn things from their mom, from their siblings, from the environment. We can’t ever replace that as a pet owner. You have to have professionals that are trying to understand work within those parameters and managing them properly in zoos,” said Pratte.
All lemurs are protected by the Federal Endangered Species Act and should only be managed under expert care by qualified zoological organizations.
“Just this one little animal showing up in someone’s garage requires appropriate permitting on a federal and a state and even a local level for somebody to have in their possession. That is why you should only see them and would normally only see them in reputable zoos and sanctuaries,” Pratte said.
If you have any information on King Julian’s origins, please reach out to the Illinois Conservation Police at 1-8772DNRLAW (236-7529).