Tiny King Julien was settling into his new life in Texas with owner and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative member Chandler Horak when the lemur experienced an unexpected taste of freedom that resulted in a lengthy stay in a tree and a ride in a bucket truck.
“He definitely likes to move it, move it,” said Horak, referring to his namesake—the fictional character from the popular “Madagascar” movie franchise.
In August, the tree-hopping primate apparently escaped from his cage during a clean-out undertaken by her boyfriend, according to Horak, who manages a small petting zoo. “I had come home from my morning job and saw him and my worker scratching their heads and both staring up a tree. They said, ‘Well, Julien got out.’”
Staring back at them, perched on a limb, was the three-month-old ring-tailed lemur. Horak called animal control and the local fire department, neither of which could help.
“My boyfriend and the worker got a long pole, thinking they could poke him to guide him down, but he just went higher.”
Then it dawned on Horak: How about the local electric co-op?
“They have what I need—a truck with a crane. So, I called, and they said this is something they normally do. I was thinking, ‘Wow, I wish I would’ve called from the beginning.’”
Answering the call at the co-op’s Brenham office were Line Supervisor Jason Carmean and his crew, Ryan Quinton and Cooper Lucherk.
“For sure, this is the first time I’ve ever rescued a lemur,” said Carmean, who’s rescued several cats stuck in trees since he joined Bluebonnet 30 years ago.
When Carmean arrived and went up in the bucket to retrieve Julien, it was mid-afternoon, blazing hot, and Julien was stuck up in the tree about 30 feet high, he said.
The wide-eyed creature “was just sitting up there holding on, and not moving too much. I grabbed it fast, around the middle, so it wouldn’t run off or try to get away. I held on tight, and we both came down in the bucket, and I handed him off to the owners.”
Horak was overjoyed. “That’s the highest he’s ever been. At the place where we got him, his enclosure was about 12 feet tall. And sometimes he hangs out on the ceiling fan inside the house, but he’s never been 25, 50 feet in the air.”
Not wanting to miss a photo op, Bluebonnet EC photographer Sarah Beal tagged along on the call. Carmean “carefully picked Julien up, and the little animal held tightly to his gloves,” she said. “When they were back on the ground, [Horak] had to pry his tiny hands off Jason, but he was happy to be back in [her] arms.”
Horak said Carmean and his crew arrived within an hour of her call. “I was actually very impressed with how quickly they came out.”
For now, Julien’s “adventuring” days appear to be over, Horak said, and the only places he climbs are into her arms or onto her lap. “He doesn’t leave my side.”
But if he does wander into another predicament, the Bluebonnet member will know just who to call for help.
Victoria A. Rocha is a staff writer for NRECA.