Duke researchers take on Sir Richard Branson

April 22, 2011 9:34:38 AM PDT
Billionaire Richard Branson's plan to bring Madagascar ring-tailed lemurs to his private island in the British Virgin Islands isn't sitting well with Duke University researchers.

The New York Times reported last week that Branson plans to import 30 animals as part of a broader plan to save animal species around the world from extinction. The lemurs would come from zoos - not the wild - and the government of the British Virgin Islands has reportedly given the plan a green light.

But in a news release sent out to the media Friday, Duke said its lemur conservation experts think the plan is a bad idea.

"Sir Richard Branson's proposal to translocate several species of lemur, beginning with the ring-tailed lemur, to a private island in the British Virgin Islands, though well intentioned, is alarmingly misguided," offered Duke Lemur Center director Anne D. Yoder.

Yoder said she'd prefer Branson worked on other ways to save the species.

"Collaboration with Malagasy partners and global centers of conservation expertise is the best and only sustainable solution for assuring the survival of lemurs. We urge Sir Richard to reach out to such partners," she said.

Branson bought the island of Moskito in 2007 for $30 million. He's best known for his Virgin brand that includes hundreds of companies such as Virgin Records and Virgin Airways.

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