NORWALK, Conn. -- Dr. Patricia Wright, the scientist featured in the IMAX movie "Island of Lemurs: Madagascar" showing at The Martime Aquarium at Norwalk, has won the 2014 Indianapolis Prize, an award for animal conservation.
Wright is a professor of biological anthropology at Stony Brook University, across Long Island Sound from the aquarium, and an expert on lemurs and their home environment of Madagascar. She will receive $250,000 and the Lilly Medal, an original work of art that signifies the winner’s contributions to conserving some of the world’s most threatened animals.
“We were fortunate to welcome Dr. Wright to The Maritime Aquarium on April 17 for a special talk, where she delighted a theater audience with stories about her efforts on behalf of lemur conservation and about the making of the IMAX movie,” said Chris Loynd, the aquarium’s marketing director. “It was inspiring to hear how passionate she remains about lemurs and her work to protect their habitats. We congratulate her for winning the Indianapolis Prize, of which she is so deserving.”
The world's leading award for animal conservation, the Indianapolis Prize, is presented biennially to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to conservation efforts involving a single animal species or multiple species.
"Wright’s passion for lemurs traces back to the 1960s, when Wright – then a social worker – bought an owl monkey in a New York City pet store. Observing her new pet’s behaviors and mannerisms sparked her enthusiasm for primates, leading Wright to ultimately obtain her doctorate in anthropology from the City University of New York in 1985," representatives said in a news release. "Just a year later, she traveled to Madagascar and discovered the golden bamboo lemur, a species that was then unknown to science, and rediscovered the greater bamboo lemur, another species that was thought to be extinct. The finds helped to catalyze cooperation between villagers and the government to protect the critically endangered lemurs."
Recently, Wright spearheaded the creation of Centre ValBio, a preserve that is a modern hub for multidisciplinary research, training and public awareness, the first in Madagascar, according to the release.
“If you missed her talk at the aquarium in April, come for the IMAX movie ‘Island of Lemurs: Madagascar’ and see what one person can do to change the world,” Loynd said.