Dr. Patricia Wright, the trailblazing scientist featured in the new IMAX® movie “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar,” will talk about her work with these endangered primates in a special presentation on Thurs., April 17 at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
Dr. Wright, a professor of biological anthropology at Stony Brook University on Long Island, is an expert on lemurs and the people and environment of Madagascar. The new IMAX movie, which opens at The Maritime Aquarium on April 4, blends two stories: the unique natural history of lemurs and Wright’s lifelong mission to help the strange and adorable creatures survive in the modern world.
“Dr. Wright is going to be in very high demand because of this wonderful new movie, so we feel especially fortunate to be able to welcome her so close to the premiere,” said Jennifer Herring, president of The Maritime Aquarium. “We’re sure she’ll have lots of amazing stories about lemurs and a compelling conservation message.”
The 7:30 p.m. talk will be followed by a screening of “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar.” Tickets are $20 ($16 for Aquarium members).
It’s an exciting year for Dr. Wright. Aside from being the featured scientist in a new IMAX movie, she is one of six finalists for the 2014 Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation. (The winner will be announced this summer.)
“Our finalists are among the most important wildlife conservationists working in the field today,” said Michael Crowther, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo, which initiated the Indianapolis Prize. “They are achieving real victories in saving animal species, creating hope and making the world a better place.”
Early in her career, Wright made history when she discovered the golden bamboo lemur, a species that was then unknown to science. The find helped to catalyze the formation of Madagascar’s park system. A short time later, Wright learned that timber exploiters were logging the golden bamboo lemur’s rain-forest habitat, so she spent months trekking to define park boundaries with the forestry service and securing funding to develop Ranomafana National Park (RNP). Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, RNP encompasses the home of 12 lemur species, some of which are listed among the world’s most endangered animals.
During the last 20 years, public awareness of Madagascar’s ecosystem has flourished through Dr. Wright’s research and outreach efforts. Her long-term relationship with the local communities in Madagascar has catalyzed economic opportunities around the park. Tourist visits to the park increased from zero to more than 30,000 in 2010, and half the park entrance fees have always been returned to the villages for conservation projects.
Recently, she spearheaded the creation of Centre ValBio, a huge preserve that is a modern hub for multidisciplinary research, training and public awareness, the first in Madagascar.
The IMAX movie “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” reunites writer-producer Drew Fellman, filmmaker David Douglas and narrator Morgan Freeman from the 2011 IMAX movie “Born to Be Wild,” which follows efforts to reintroduce orphaned baby orangutans and elephants into their natural environment. Beginning an unprecedented fourth year at The Maritime Aquarium, “Born to Be Wild” is one of the Norwalk attraction’s most popular IMAX films ever.
Like “Born to Be Wild,” “Island of the Lemurs: Madagascar” is a presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures and IMAX Entertainment. It’s rated G.
To reserve tickets for Dr. Patricia Wright’s lecture on April 17 or for the daily screenings of “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” beginning April 4, go to www.maritimeaquarium.org or call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.