Island of Lemurs: Madagascar (2014) Movie Script

If you're wondering who you are...'re not alone.
You're no monkey's uncle.
But you are rather peculiar.
Where did you come from
and who were your ancestors?
Guess again.
That's right.
The story of lemurs
begins over 60 million years ago.
Back in the time of the dinosaurs.
Long before monkeys, apes,
or humans ever existed.
Lemurs were small nocturnal creatures and
survived the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.
They were living in Africa...
...when a massive storm
blew a tangled raft of trees out to sea...
...and turned a family of tiny lemurs...
...into some of the greatest explorers
in the history of life on Earth.
The lemurs landed on Madagascar.
A vast island isolated
from the rest of the world.
For millions of years,
there were no other mammals, or even birds.
With no predators to fear...
...lemurs emerged into the daylight.
And over time they evolved into
a wild variety of new shapes and sizes.
Their ancestors went extinct in Africa.
But in Madagascar, lemurs thrived...
...and became the rulers
of their glorious new world.
Lemurs are the most
ancient primate alive today.
And Madagascar is the only
place on Earth where they live.
For a scientist seeking to preserve
our planet's rich biodiversity...
...Madagascar is Treasure Island.
Dr. Patricia Wright is a primatologist
from New York's Stony Brook University.
She's an expert
in finding rare and elusive lemurs.
As a young scientist, her destiny
was changed by a journey to Madagascar.
Back then, the country was changing fast.
And the lemurs' good luck was running out.
I first came to
Madagascar to solve a mystery...
...about a lemur
that we feared had gone extinct.
My mission was to find it.
The greater bamboo lemur
once lived throughout Madagascar...
...but hadn't been seen in 50 years.
I searched for months
and never saw a single one.
I had almost given up,
when I got to Ranomafana.
Then one morning...
...there he was.
Feasting on his favorite treat:
Crunchy, young bamboo shoots.
After her discovery...
...Patricia helped save
this rain forest as a national park.
And she devoted her life to protecting
the wild places of Madagascar...
...and all the animals that call it home.
The word lemur means "wandering spirit."
And there is something otherworldly
about the lemurs of this forest.
These lemurs are sacred in Madagascar.
There is a legend about two brothers
who lived in the forest.
One ran off and became the first human.
The other stayed and became... indri.
There were once lemurs as big as gorillas.
But those were hunted to extinction
just a few hundred years ago.
Indri are the largest lemurs that remain.
Indri live in small family groups
that have their own territories.
They trade news with each other
by singing haunting duets.
Each family member adds their part... a chorus that travels
deep into the forest.
The song of indri once echoed
loudly across the eastern rain forest...
...but now it's fading away.
No indri has ever survived in captivity.
You can only meet one here... Madagascar.
The town of Ranomafana
is on the edge of the ancient rainforest...
...where I found the greater bamboo lemurs.
The people in the surrounding
villages benefit from the park.
But they still rely on the land to survive.
Before I was a scientist,
I was a social worker in Brooklyn.
It's my nature to solve problems.
And in Madagascar,
humans and lemurs have the same problem:
Limited resources that they both need.
Madagascar was one of the
last places on Earth settled by humans.
They brought a small
breed of cattle called zebu...
...that need open space for grazing.
Since their arrival 2000 years ago...
...people have burned down over
90 percent of Madagascar's forests... clear land for grazing and farming.
Every dry season...
...thousands of fires
still burn across the island.
The fires are set in fields,
but grow out of control...
...and spread to the forests
where lemurs live.
It's the biggest threat
to wildlife in Madagascar.
Many lemur species are dwindling
as their forests disappear.
But one crafty lemur has
bet its survival...
...on the ability to adapt
to changing conditions.
Beyond the reach of fire...
...gangs of ring-tailed lemurs
have found their perfect hideout.
Ring-tails live in groups
of extended families.
And it's easy to observe one of the things
that makes all lemurs special among primates.
The females are in charge.
The alpha female decides
where they go and what they eat.
This troop's leader
is hobbled by a broken hand...
...but that doesn't affect
her position at the top.
Even the smallest female... dominant over every male.
Females inherit their power
from their mother.
They keep it
through experience and attitude.
Ring-tails once covered
much wider territory in Madagascar.
But as humans spread out, the ring-tails...
...retreated into the cracks
of this natural fortress.
Like lemur outlaws...
...they live on the edge of civilization
and launch raids on the farms below.
At night, the day's
squabbles are forgotten.
The ring-tailed family grooms each other and
sleeps cuddled up in one big lemur ball.
They survive by sticking together.
Patricia's headquarters
in Madagascar is the Centre ValBio...
...a state-of-the-art research station perched
on the edge of Ranomafana National Park.
Home to 15 kinds of lemurs.
It's here that she's training a new generation
of Western and Malagasy scientists... build a future for the lemurs.
Almost all the plants and
animals in Madagascar are endemic...
...and exist nowhere else on Earth.
The more we learn
about their intricate relationships...
...the more we can do to protect
the forest and eventually to expand it.
To the lemurs, all this science
can seem awfully mysterious.
Each night, Herman and Victor
set traps in the forest around ValBio... catch the smallest
primate in the world.
To these mouse lemurs,
it's like being abducted by aliens.
They're taken to a strange laboratory
and scanned, probed...
...and analyzed by giant creatures.
They may be small,
but mouse lemurs are fierce predators...
...that strike terror into insects
and frogs across the galaxy.
After a few hours,
the mouse lemurs are released...
...and head home to their nests
with an out of this world story to tell.
I'm happiest when I'm
alone in the forest with lemurs.
Lemurs have a very calm presence.
The greater bamboo lemur
has a special place in my heart.
They're not the most famous lemur,
and they're not the most beautiful...
...but they have this mischievous charm
that I just fell in love with.
There were once millions of them,
but now they're extremely endangered.
These two are the only ones
living in a protected forest.
This father and his daughter have been all
alone for two years since mom disappeared.
For the species to survive,
I have to help this family now.
They need new mates from outside the park.
And I'll have to play lemur matchmaker.
All over Madagascar,
the country's own scientists...
...are also working hard
to protect the lemurs.
Dr. Hanta Rasamimanana
works in the spiny forest.
A bizarre habitat of euphorbias
and prickly cactus-like trees.
She's a census taker,
on the lookout for her favorite lemur...
...the sifaka.
Sifaka are so curious.
When they see me taking notes,
they come down to study me.
It's like they are the primatologists.
Sifaka don't drink water.
They get all the moisture
they need from fruits...
...and the little leaves
between the spines of plants.
I've followed them for 20 years
and they still amaze me.
I teach my students that lemurs
are Madagascar's living treasure.
But what's most amazing about the sifaka... how they dance.
After months of searching...
...Patricia's team finally found
a new group of greater bamboo lemurs... provide mates for the family
in the national park.
Their habitat is
awful, I mean, very degraded.
I am so relieved. I'm really relieved.
I mean, my goodness...
...we have been chasing
those animals for a long time.
We have to catch them today.
When we reached the lemurs,
fires were burning throughout the forest...
...and I hoped we weren't too late.
They captured them just in time.
But another piece of forest is gone.
See if she has milk, or if she's pregnant.
Back at ValBio...
...the rescued lemurs
are sedated and examined... make sure they are free
from parasites and disease.
The canine has tooth wear. Okay.
The new lemurs wear radio collars... scientists can
easily monitor their progress.
I've studied these animals for so long...
...but this is the first time
I've ever held one in my arms.
You're really beautiful.
So amazing.
I thought you guys were extinct. Yeah.
What a shame that would be.
Such beautiful animals.
But now you're going to be
in the national park. Yeah.
Soon after, Patricia
brings the rescued lemurs... an enclosure in the rain forest... they can get used to the environment
before meeting the residents.
So much was at stake.
But even I didn't know what to expect.
Would they fall in love?
Would they fight?
Would they even find each other?
The next day, the father
and daughter discover the cage...
...and realize they are no longer alone.
I didn't expect true love right away.
They have to get to know each other.
But this seems like
the start of a beautiful friendship.
If all goes well,
next year we'll have babies in the park.
That's how we're going
to save these lemurs.
One generation at a time.
Across Madagascar,
lemurs have an uphill battle to survive.
But momentum is shifting in their favor.
Some villagers have begun to fight fires...
...not just start them.
And thanks to people like Hanta... are teaching their elders
about conservation.
And learning to avoid
the mistakes of their ancestors.
Lemurs came to Madagascar as castaways.
Their epic adventure
has lasted for 60 million years.
Fate brought the lemurs to Madagascar.
But they'll need more
than luck to survive much longer.
They'll need help.
How are you? Are you doing okay up there?
The more I get to know lemurs,
the more I love them.
And I want to share these
incredible animals with the world.
Lemurs have a miraculous story.
Now it's up to us to keep it alive.
After all...
...the best stories in nature
are the ones that never end.