Initially, Denton resident Sarah Adams thought the four-legged animal that jumped onto her backyard fence was a raccoon. Then she came to a realization: A lemur was in Denton, Texas.
Adams shot a video of her lemur encounter June 19, uploading it to Facebook and other social media. An excerpt from the 10-second video was posted by a different Twitter user at the beginning of July, when the clip became its most popular, receiving over 23,000 views, nearly 300 retweets and nearly 2,000 likes.
“When it jumped up on the fence, I was initially in the corner and I thought it looked like a raccoon,” Adams said. “That was troublesome because it was the middle of the day, and when it started to walk I got up next to my husband and I was like, ‘That doesn’t look like a raccoon.’ Luckily, I took a video.”
Adams, who was also with her toddler at the time, said it was strange and wild to see a lemur in her own backyard, and in Denton at all.
“I didn’t know if it was a pet or it escaped from the zoo,” Adams said. “The only time I’ve ever seen a ring-tailed lemur was at a zoo, so there’s always been protection for it and us. At that time, I called animal control.”
In this case, lemurs — native to Madagascar — present a problem for Denton’s animal control division: while it’s legal to own one in Texas, a city ordinance classifies them as primates, along with monkeys and orangutans, which aren’t allowed locally.
“This is something we are actually looking into,” Denton city animal services manager Randi Weinberg said. “State law says you can own one. We are going to reach out to the owner, see what types of permits they have and start working on that.”
When Adams initially called animal control, she was informed there have been lemur reports before. She learned someone in the area, possibly a veterinarian, owns the animal.
“The [animal control] person who came out was like, ‘at first I didn’t believe you guys,’” Adams said. “We learned that, apparently, a vet in our neighborhood owns a lemur. I do not know if the lemur found its way home. I’m hoping and assuming so — I hope he’s back where he belongs.”