In 1997, the foundation bought 40 acres in rural Manatee County, Florida. The campus has since expanded to 120 acres, most of which serve as a buffer between LCF activity and surrounding agricultural land. The reserve encompasses diverse vegetation zones that range from freshwater marsh to scrub to oak-pine mixed forest.
Two forests, each about 10 acres and each surrounded by a 13-foot fence, allow many of the 56 resident ring-tailed, red-ruffed, mongoose, brown, collared, and Sanford’s lemurs to range freely. Plantings of mango, passion fruit, guava, grapes, banana, persimmon, and bamboo supplement indigenous vegetation. This habitat invites authentic behaviors, improving breeding success and enabling scientific research and field training.
With the on-site lemur population growing, LCF is planning a third forest, a palmetto prairie which LCF has seeded with oaks and pines.
Within the main forest, the Reed and Barbara Toomey Lemur Pavilion provides space for food preparation and housing for lemurs in times of physical or environmental stress, such as hurricanes. It has eight climate-controlled indoor and outdoor enclosures. Serving a similar function in the second forest is the Marilyn K. North Lemur Lodge, which includes a dedicated veterinary room.
Outside the forests, the Michael & Jean Martin Quarantine Shelter allows LCF to isolate newcomers and breeding transfers.
Although secondary to lemur conservation, our environmental stewardship extends to local habitats and wildlife. LCF wetlands contribute directly to the head waters of the Myakka River, and LCF has worked closely with the Army Corps of Engineers and the South West Florida Water Management District to ensure that construction on the reserve does not harm the extensive wetland system. Roaming the property is an incredible variety of insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals, including river otters, indigo snakes, gopher tortoises, and great horned owls.
The heart of human activity at the Myakka reserve is the Mianatra Center for Lemur Studies. It combines office and meeting space with the Anne & Walter Bladstrom Library. LCF’s eclectic holdings, from scientific journals to art, provide a holistic vision of conservation.
Staff caretakers, interns, and visiting students and scientists can stay in one of three residences on or near the reserve: Fisher Caretaker’s Cottage, Tranosoa Myakka (Myakka Welcome House), and the Researchers’ House.