Denver Zoo was one of the first zoos in North America to care for Aye-ayes and is home to three of the only 24 Aye-ayes in the U.S. The Zoo’s newest Aye-aye, Tonks, who was born on August 8, has now emerged from the nest box and is starting to actively explore her habitat.
Visitors will be able to see Tonks, along with her mom, Bellatrix, and dad, Smeagol, in their exhibit in Emerald Forest at Denver Zoo.
However, seeing these elusive, nocturnal lemurs isn’t always easy. Lead Primate Keeper Becky Sturges offered the following three tips for visitors to help spot the Aye-aye family in the Zoo’s exhibit:
“Visit Early…and Late: The best times to spot the Aye-ayes is soon after the Zoo opens around 10:30 a.m. and late in the afternoon, when Tonks tends to play and explore to burn off her last amount of energy before bedtime. Let Your Eyes Adjust: Spend at least five minutes letting your eyes adjust to the darkness in the exhibit and keep cell phone lights off. Look Up: Tonks is very adventurous and likes to explore the entire habitat, but she tends to spend more time on branches in the higher areas.”
Aye-ayes are (Daubentonia madagascariensis) a rare species of lemur that are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They are native only to remote parts of Madagascar. They are also one of the most distinctive looking animals on the planet due to a number of unique adaptations, including coarse dark hair, long bushy tails, rodent-like teeth, piercing eyes and skeletal hands that feature extra-long middle fingers with hooked claws. Aye-ayes are born weighing just a few ounces and reach up to 5 lbs. as adults. They have been known to live up to about 20 years.
For more information about Tonks and Denver Zoo’s history with Aye-aye, visit the Zoo’s website: https://www.denverzoo.org/zootales/what-does-it-take-for-a-baby-aye-aye-to-survive-and-thrive/