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Endangered aye-aye born at the Denver Zoo

May 8, 2009 |  6:38 pm


The endangered aye-aye, despite this infant's resemblance to some sort of alien rat (we say that lovingly!), is actually a relative of chimpanzees and other apes. 

Unlike many endangered species, the aye-aye's troubles are due in large part to superstition.  Many native people in the aye-aye's native Madagascar consider the little primates to be a bad omen signaling death.  The superstition suggests that the only way to prevent the death is to kill the animal.  Although aye-ayes are now protected by law, the damage has been done -- and so it's cause for celebration when a baby is born.

This infant was born April 18 at the Denver Zoo.  It's only the second aye-aye to be born at a North American zoo, and the first ever conceived in one.  From the Denver Post:

According to the Denver Zoo, the little guy weighed a little more than 2 ounces at birth, which was a low birth weight. But with the Denver Zoo primate staff providing supplemental care and intense management for him and his mother, his weight grew to nearly 6 ounces this week.

The infant was born to mother Salem and father Ozony, both of who came to the Denver Zoo last year.

The breeding pair, both 7 years old, arrived from the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina through the recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan.

Aye-ayes spend most of their time in trees and eat primarily insect larvae.  They use their long fingers in much the same way that a woodpecker uses its beak: they tap the trees to locate grubs, then fish them out with their long middle fingers.  Dinner!

Check out another photo of this baby after the jump.


--Lindsay Barnett

Photos: Dave Parsons / Associated Press

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