Primatologist Dr. Patricia Wright is visiting South Fork Natural History Museum (SoFo) in Bridgehampton on Saturday, November 3 to speak about her work in Madagascar during The Lost Rainforest of Crystal Mountain, Madagascar.
Dr. Wright and her colleagues are responsible for the discovery of a new species of lemur, the golden bamboo lemur (Hapalemur aureus), which they came across during an exploratory expedition in Madagascar in 1986. This led to Dr. Patricia Wright working with the government of Madagascar to create Ranomafana National Park, a 106,000-acre World Heritage Site in southeastern Madagascar, to protect the newly discovered species and the greater bamboo lemur (Hapalemur simus), which was rediscovered around the same time. The Park opened in 1991. In addition to concentrating on the protection and conservation of endemic flora and fauna, Dr. Wright’s efforts also focused on rural development, education, and the awareness of health services in the Park’s peripheral zone. She also helped arrange the construction of the Park infrastructure and management, biodiversity research and monitoring, ecotourism development, and economic development.
“Dr. Wright’s firm commitment to the protection of species and their habitats resonates strongly with the values that underlie the mission of the South Fork Natural History Museum,” said Carol Crasson, SoFo director of education/communications. “She is a role model for all who hope to make a difference not only in the world of conservation but in the work of community-building as well.”
Park management was transferred to the Malagasy Park Service in 1997 and since then, Dr. Wright has remained actively involved in biodiversity research and exploration in Madagascar.
Dr. Wright, a distinguished professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stony Brook University, founded the Centre ValBio Research station in Madagascar in 2002. She also serves as the Executive Director for the University’s Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments (ICTE). She was named a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 1989, and recognized with three medals of honor from Madagascar: “Chevalier d’Ordre National,” “Officier d’Ordre National,” and the “Commandeur” in 1995.
Dr. Wright is also an American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) Fellow and was named to the American Philosophical Society, a prestigious society founded by Ben Franklin. She has been recognized with several prestigious honorary degrees and awards, including The Hauptman-Woodward Pioneer in Science Award, the Distinguished Primatologists award, and the Indianapolis Prize for Animal Conservation, which is considered the “Nobel Prize” for conservation.
Dr. Wright, whose studies have focused on the behavioral ecology of non-human primates in South America, Asia, and Madagascar, has co-authored five books – including two autobiographies: High Moon over the Amazon: my quest to understand the monkeys of the night and For the Love of Lemurs: my life in the wilds of Madagascar, and has published over 170 scientific papers.
Her research has been the focus of multiple documentary films, such as Michael Apted’s Me and Isaac Newton and Island of Lemurs: Madagascar, a 3D IMAX film narrated by Morgan Freeman, while Dr. Wright has appeared on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown and ABC’s Nightline.
Admission to The Lost Rainforest of Crystal Mountain, Madagascar is free, however advance registration is required. The event will commence at 7 p.m.
South Fork Natural History Museum & Nature Center is located at 377 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton. For more information, visit sofo.org.