Bradford County woman's lemur serves the community

STARKE, Fla. -- A Bradford County woman makes the most of her unique service animal lemur by giving back to the community.

Kim Smith takes the ring tailed lemur, Maxwell, with her everywhere she goes.

"He's very well behaved," she said of the four-and-a-half year old animal. "He's been to Gator football games with me. He went with me to Omaha for the College World Series."

But it's not all play.

The two of them make school visits, and take trips to nursing homes for lemur lessons.

"We teach the kids about ring tailed lemurs, but many of them already know a little bit about them," she said. "But it's a lot of fun, and he is a great stress relief."

A lemur visit is certainly out of the ordinary for a typical day at school.

But Smith, who lives just outside of Starke in Graham, has started to build a reputation around town.

"Yep, folks call me the lemur lady," she said laughing.

She has a license for the animal, and she'll take him to restaurants and stores.

But she said his favorite thing to do is go for a grocery cart ride through the Starke Walmart.

"People come up and ask me, 'What is that, a raccoon?'" she said.

As for her neighbors, they say they love him.

"He's the best thing since grits," said her neighbor Pat Arnold, who is always welcoming of Maxwell. "I leave the door unlocked and he comes right in, he knows exactly where the bananas are."

And while this lemur is very friendly with children and adults alike, Smith said this isn't necessarily typical for all lemurs.

"I've spent a lot of time training Maxwell, and giving him one-on-one interaction," Smith said. "If you have to go to work during the day, or have to leave them alone, they may not be the best pet."

Smith works as an insurance adjuster, and when she's on the road, she takes Maxwell with her.

"He's like my kid, I take him everywhere," she said.


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