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Second Aye-Aye Ever Born in North America

Aye-aye's are primitive primates native only to Madagascar like their lemur cousins. Highly endangered, the Denver Zoo's new baby aye-aye is only the second ever born in North America and the first conceived in North America.

Aye aye on back

Baby aye aye crawling
Photo credits: Dave Parsons, The Denver Zoo

This video is definitely worth watching

The world's largest nocturnal primate, the aye-aye's strange looks and habits have led local villagers to consider them bad omens and kill them on site. However, aye-aye's are gentle creatures that use their long fingers to extract ants, termites and other insects out of holes in trees.

Proud aye-aye mother Salem pictured below

Aye aye mom salem

Denver Zoo is proud to announce the birth of a new aye-aye, a rare endangered primate found in Madagascar. The male infant was born Saturday, April 18, but still does not have a name. The infant’s birth is significant as it is only the second aye-aye to be born at a North American zoo as well as the first to be conceived at a North American zoo. The new aye-aye is currently in a nest box in Denver Zoo’s Emerald Forest building inside the Primate Panorama exhibit. Visitors will be able to see the youngster as he grows and becomes more self sufficient. 

The newborn had a low birth weight, but Denver Zoo veterinary and primate staff diligently provided supplemental care and intense management of mom and infant. Eventually this resulted in appropriate weight gains and successful maternal care by the infant’s mother. His weight at birth was 82 grams, but he soon doubled that in roughly two week’s time to 164 grams as of May 4, 2009.

The infant was born to mother, Salem and father, Ozony, both of whom came to Denver Zoo last year. The breeding pair, both 7-years-old, arrived from the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match. 

Aye-ayes are the world’s largest nocturnal primate, weighing up to six pounds, and are found only in Madagascar. This prosimian species is so unique it is classified in a family all its own, called Daubentoniidae. Aye-ayes look like no other animal living today, their monkey-like body, squirrel-like tail, large eyes and elongated middle fingers make them easily distinguishable from any other primate. They use their long, curved middle digits, which can be up to three times longer than the others, to pull insects out of holes in trees.  

They are classified as endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) due to habitat loss and illegal hunting. Some native populations believe these primates are an evil omen and the sighting of one is said to predict the death of a villager and the only way to prevent this is to kill the aye-aye. They are also a rare site in zoos, as there is only one other zoo, the San Francisco Zoo, that houses these rare animals. Including the aye ayes at the Duke Lemur Center, there are only 25 aye-ayes in North America. The Duke Lemur Center is the only university-based facility in the world devoted to the study of prosimian primates. It is home to the world's largest colony of endangered primates, including more than 250 lemurs, bush babies, lorises and the largest captive population of aye-ayes in North America.

Incidentally, the aye-aye mom and my own mother share the same name!