Denver Zoo has an interesting animal to look at |

Denver Zoo has an interesting animal to look at

Bill Scanlon
Rocky Mountain News
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” Aye-aye ay-yi-yi!

A very rare animal with the body of a monkey, the tail of a squirrel and a rodent-like face has arrived at the Denver Zoo.

In fact, the Denver Zoo obtained two of the rare, mysterious aye-ayes, and zookeepers hope that someday they’ll mate and parent aye-ayes for future generations of zoo visitors.

The unusual primates hail from Madagascar, where they are endangered. There are only about two dozen aye-ayes in North American zoos.

Some people in Madagascar believe aye-ayes are evil omens and that when one is spotted it is a forewarning that a villager will soon die, says Denver Zoo spokeswoman Amy Bowie. They believe that the only way to prevent the human death is to kill the aye-aye.

How unusual are aye-ayes? So much so that they are the only species in their class, Bowie said.

They are the world’s largest nocturnal primates, weighing about six pounds, and have very large eyes.

Their middle fingers are three times longer than their other fingers, but they haven’t been known to make rude gestures.

Their long fingers are perfectly suited for pulling insects out of holes in trees.

The breeding pair ” Salem the female and Ozony the male are both 7 ” came from the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina.

They’re adjusting well to their new surroundings, Bowie said.

Ozony’s father, Mephistopheles, was the first aye-aye at the Denver Zoo ” a brief, very popular visitor to the Denver zoo a decade ago.

To get ready for the arrival of Ozony and Salem, Denver zoo staffers broke down some walls at the nocturnal habitat to make one roomy space for the aye-ayes.

The World Conservation Union classifies ayes-ayes as endangered because of illegal hunting and habitat loss.

The Denver Zoo participates in 206 species survival plans, including, now, the aye-aye.

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