The Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of one of the most rare — and most difficult to see — animals in the world. With only 24 living in seven zoos in the United States, and an unknown number …
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The Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of one of the most rare — and most difficult to see — animals in the world.
With only 24 living in seven zoos in the United States, and an unknown number in the wild, aye-ayes are considered one of the strangest primates on earth, according to a Denver Zoo news release. With the birth of Tonks in early August, the Denver Zoo now is home to three of the elusive nocturnal lemurs, the release said.
Tonks was born Aug. 8 to mom Bellatrix and dad Smeagol. She is healthy and thriving. However, her first days were worrying for Denver Zoo’s animal care staff and veterinarians, the release said.
“We noticed that Bellatrix wasn’t showing typical mothering behaviors, so we decided to step in to give Tonks some supportive care,” lead primate keeper Becky Sturges said in the release. “We provided 24-hour care for the first week and had to teach Bellatrix how to nurse, but now she is nursing well and Tonks has gained a lot of weight. Now we’re just monitoring them to make sure things continue to go well.”
Aye-aye are classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and native only to remote parts of Madagascar. They are 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 pounds as adults, and live up to 20 years.
Tonks is in the aye-aye exhibit in Emerald Forest with Bellatrix and Smeagol. However, she will remain in her nest box for at least a couple more months before exploring on her own and visible to guests, the release said.
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