Sporting a crooked finger, piercing yellow eyes, and coming out only after dark, some might think this baby Aye-aye at ZSL London Zoo was custom-made for Halloween. But the baby’s arrival is a rare event that will benefit efforts to conserve this unique species.
The baby Aye-aye, born on August 1, is a first for ZSL London Zoo. Named Malcolm, the infant emerged from its secluded nest box for the first time last week.
Aye-ayes, which are a species of Lemur, have an unusually large middle finger and are considered harbingers of doom in their native Madagascar. Legend has it that if an aye-aye points its long finger at you, death is not far away. In reality, Aye-ayes use the elongated digit to forage for tasty beetle larvae from inside trees.
Aye-ayes are solitary and nocturnal, so their habits are difficult to observe. They eat, sleep, and mate high in the trees.
Found only in Madagascar, Aye-ayes are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Like all species in Madagascar, they face enormous pressure from human activity, such as deforestation and agriculture. Due to the belief that Aye-ayes portend doom, they are often killed by villagers. Only about 50 Aye-ayes live in zoos worldwide.