Richard Branson Is Giving an Island to Lemurs Richard Branson Is Giving an Island to Lemurs
The Planet

Richard Branson Is Giving an Island to Lemurs

by Andrew Price

April 21, 2011

The nice thing about being an eccentric billionaire is that you can just up and decide that you're going to devote an entire Caribbean island to some experiment or pet cause. And in the case of Richard Branson, Virgin tycoon, the pet in question is the ringtailed lemur. Branson has a plan to turn 124-acre Moskito island, a tropical getaway he happens to own, into a reserve for the threatened primate.

It's not just that Branson has a thing for lemurs (though we suspect he does). It's a project of Virgin Unite, his nonprofit devoted to protecting endangered species. But lemurs aren't native to Moskito island—they'd be brought over from Madagascar, where illegal logging has threatened their habitat—and that could be a problem. Dr James Lazell, president of the nonprofit Conservation Agency has warned that "Lemurs are agile, dexterous, aggressive, omnivorous animals that could have a detrimental effect on these simple island ecologies." For his part, Branson promises he'll be careful and introduce them slowly.

If the island ends up being a good fit for them, hey, the world will have a nice preserve for the adorable ringtailed lemur. And if they end up wreaking havoc? Branson assured the press that lemurs "hate swimming" and wouldn't be able to get to other islands.

Photo (cc) by Flickr user spookypeanut

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Richard Branson Is Giving an Island to Lemurs