“Hello Marty!!”, greeted Paapa with a warm smile. “We are so grateful to have you in our family.”
“Thank you Paapa!” said Marty the lemur, climbing on to a nearby tree, next to Paapa. “I am too excited to tell my friends that Kaadoo has adopted me!!”
“How could they not? They are all overjoyed! Will you introduce me to your friends at the zoo?”, asked Kaadoo Paapa.
“Oh yes”, said Marty, jumping right out of the tree and running towards his friends with Paapa following him by jumping from tree to tree.
They reached the middle of the zoo, from where they could see all the animals and birds.
“Kaadoo Paapa, meet my friends. This is Grace, the Giraffe. She tells me the stories about the grasslands. And this is Zen, the Zebra. We both go back a long way….”, Marty went on and Kaadoo Paapa enjoyed meeting his friends.
At dusk, Kaadoo Paapa and Marty sat on a tree branch gazing at the sky.
“So, Marty, can you tell me about your species? I am sure that the Kaadoo Tribe would also want to know more about you”, said Kaadoo Paapa.
“Sure. I am from Madagascar, an Island country in the Indian Ocean. Did you know that my species are considered to be the national animal of Madagascar?” asked Marty.
“No, I didn’t. How interesting!”, said Kaadoo Paapa.
“Yeah, I am so proud to be one of them”, said Marty. “Did you know that we evolved even before monkeys? We are the world’s oldest living primates and are endemic only to Madagascar. Oh, the reason will fascinate you!”, said Marty. “It is said that lemurs landed in Madagascar on the rafts of vegetation, and as we didn’t have many predators, we grew rapidly.”
“I didn’t know that!”, said Paapa. “You must have also noticed my interesting features, haven’t you? Just like you, I have huge round eyes and nails instead of claws. My body is covered with thick grey fur, but some of us also have brown or black fur with a touch of red. Some of us can see well during the day, while others at night.”
“Oh, that is truly fascinating! Can you see during night or day?” Paapa asked curiously as he can see pretty well at night.
“I am from the species of ring-tailed lemur. So, I can see in the dark”, said Marty.
“Same here!! Looks like we have a lot in common!”, exclaimed Paapa.
“Yeah, we are arboreal and mostly live in rainforests. Do you?”, asked Marty. “Also, did you know that we have a secret language to communicate with each other?”
“Yes, we too are arboreal. Oh! I didn’t know you had a secret language. What is it?” asked Paapa.
“We use vocalizations to communicate. Low growls. I still remember my mother using soft purrs so that I had a way to communicate with her.” Said Marty. There is a loud growl from Marty’s stomach. “I am so hungry!”
“What do you eat?” asked Paapa seeing Marty impatiently climbing up a tree.
“Some of us are specific about food and only feed on fruits and flowers. Some eat bamboo. But, I don’t need any specific food to eat. I eat spiders, small birds, and even small insects,” said Marty.
“Back to the topic,” said Marty after completing his meal. “We live in small troops that contain around 20 of us and the troop is led by a female. We love staying together, and sometimes even sleep huddled together to stay warm.”
“So, lemurs never get separated, right?” asked Paapa.
“Yes, in my species, we always stay in troops.” said Marty. “We are well adapted to climb trees. As I mentioned earlier, we have nails but we have one claw on each back foot to help us climb up. Our long tail helps us to maintain balance.”
“Oh! That’s helpful.” said Paapa.
“Pygmy mouse lemur is the world’s smallest lemur and Indri is the largest lemur.” said Marty. “Have you wondered what we would do if we get hurt?”
“Does it heal on its own?” asked Paapa.
“No, we are doctors of ourselves. We medicate each other.” said Marty. “We are very important to plants as we are seed dispersers, and hence we help the plants to grow in number.”
There was a silence and Marty’s eyes were suddenly filled with tears. “What’s wrong Marty?” asked Paapa.
“Now you know that we are indeed lovely creatures but we are decreasing. We are losing our family. We are on the critically endangered list. And, no sooner we will never be able to see this world again.”, said Marty with tears overflowing.
“Sadly, I understand as my species is experiencing the same. It is really painful to know that we may not have long.” Said Paapa, hugging Marty to comfort him.
“If only our homes weren’t chopped down at this rate, we would stand a chance”, said Marty.
“I am sure our friends will understand our plight and spread awareness to save us and conserve the forests. For now, you take rest, as tomorrow I will introduce you to my friends”, assured Paapa.
Feeling hopeful, Marty drifted into deep sleep, curled up next to Paapa on the branch.
- Written by Gowri, a 14-year-old friend of Kaadoo Paapa