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‘Island of Lemurs’: A status report on the creatures, cute and endangered

‘ISLAND OF LEMURS: madagascar’ ★★★1⁄2

Warner Bros. and IMAX Entertainment present a documentary directed by David Douglas and written by Drew Fellman. Running time: 39 minutes. Rated G. Opens Friday at Navy Pier Imax.

Updated: April 3, 2014 9:20PM

They’re cute, kind of crazy-looking and environmentally endangered, so it’s only natural that the lemurs of Madagascar would get the IMAX educational documentary treatment.

Should you rush out to see it? Well, that depends on whether you like your cute and crazy-looking six stories tall and in 3D. Or if you’re concerned your children might be hypnotized by the gigantic, round, unblinking eyes of a lemur.

Even narrator Morgan Freeman admits there’s something “rather peculiar” about the world’s most ancient primates, whose history dates back 60 million years to the time of the dinosaurs — long before we were here. People tend to find them endearing and amusing at the same time, which may explain why they’re increasingly familiar in movies these days. The manically wacko King Julien in the animated “Madagascar” movies, for example, and the wannabe criminal mastermind in “Muppets Most Wanted.”

Of course, their charms haven’t stopped us from driving them to the brink of extinction. The brief but informative (and kid-friendly whimsical) “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” is basically a status report on the creatures, who exist nowhere else on Earth. We get the lemur backstory, including a million idyllic, predator-free years on Madagascar until the arrival of mankind 2,000 years ago. We get lots of footage of ring-tailed lemurs, bamboo lemurs, mouse lemurs and other varieties leaping from treetop to treetop, chowing down on bamboo shoots or simply chilling in the forest, lemur-like.

And we get an inspirational overview of the laudable efforts of primatologist Dr. Patricia Wright, who has made it her life’s work to protect what’s left of the dwindling lemur population. You know, now that the human residents of Madagascar have burned down 90 percent of its forests for grazing and farming.

If we’re not very careful, it seems, cartoon lemurs could be all we’ll have left.

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