By Sara Belsole. CREATED Sep 17, 2013
SANIBEL, Fla. - We all fell in love with the lemurs in Dreamwork's Madagascar.
But from the big screen to Sanibel Island?
"They stopped what they were doing and I stopped what I was doing and we just kind of looked at each other," Kenneth Kelly said.
Kelly said he got caught in a staring contest with two lemurs as he was leaving work last week.
"One was on this branch hanging here and one was right here on the bridge," Kelly said.
He told a co-worker about it the next day.
"I asked if there were lemurs on this island and she laughed at me," Kelly said.
But Kelly isn't crazy. In fact, he is the third person to report seeing a pair of lemurs on the island. They were first spotted on Sanibel-Captiva Road near Blind Pass. Then a week later, they were seen on Tarpon Bay Road by Bailey Tract. Kelly saw them outside City Hall on Dunlop Road.
"It's definitely unusual," Environmental Biologist Holly Milbrandt said.
Milbrandt said this is the first time lemurs have been spotted running around town.
"These animals are rare, they're not from North America so the only option is for them to have escaped from a zoo or someone's pet ," Milbrandt said.
You're allowed to have a lemur as a pet as long as you have a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. But so far, all the pet lemurs and those in local zoos, are accounted for.
Biologists say lemurs could survive on Sanibel eating plants and insects, but they don't want the island to become their new home.
"They can probably do okay here for a while, our concern here is protecting our native wildlife, that's what Sanibel is all about," Milbrandt said.
And as for Kelly, he only has one regret.
"I wish I had taken a picture," Kelly said.
If you spot a lemur, snap a picture and call Sanibel Police at (239) 472-3111.