Smeagol! (the Aye-aye)
August 24, 2010
Meet Smeagol, the Philadelphia Zoo's new baby Aye-aye, named after the less than handsome character from the Lord of the Rings. These strange lemurs are the world's largest nocturnal primate and, despite their Gollum-like looks, they are shy and gentle. Born July 14, to the zoo’s female, named Medusa, it's a healthy 105g baby boy.
Smeagol has already started to leave the nest box to explore his exhibit. He can be seen withAye-Aye Medusa and dad, Tolkein, at the Zoo’s Peco Primate Reserve. As nocturnal creatures, aye-ayes are typically most active at night. At the Zoo, however, their exhibit area is darkened during the daytime so our aye-aye group is most active during visitor hours.
Aye-ayes are rare lemurs that can be found hanging from the trees in the rainforests of Madagascar. With their beady eyes, big ears and bushy tails, aye-ayes look like very eerie animals. The Philadelphia Zoo is one of only three facilities in the United States that now has aye-ayes, a threatened species. Protection laws have been put into place, but aye-ayes are still hunted in Madagascar because of the bad luck they are often associated with. Habitat loss due to deforestation is another factor that has contributed to the endangerment of aye-ayes.