They may not be the cutest arrival to the Zoo, but they are some of the rarest. This August, Denver Zoo became one of the first zoos in North America to care for a rare species of lemur called an aye aye, and is now home to three of the 24 aye aye’s in the United States.
Now, one of the aye ayes, Tonks, has made her debut from her nest box and is available to view. Tonks is joined with her mom, Bellatrix, and dad, Smeagol, in their home in the Emerald Forest.
Tonks is quite the celebrity; featured in People, National Geographic, and Daily Mail with many noting her strangely adorable appearance.
Aye ayes are a rare species of lemur that are classified as endangered and native only to remote parts of Madagascar. Their distinctive look includes a number of unique adaptations, including coarse dark hair, long bushy tails, rodent-like teeth, piercing eyes, and skeletal hands with extra-long middle fingers with hooked claws.
These unique nocturnal lemurs aren’t always the most social guests, so lead primate keeper Becky Sturges offers the following tips to spot the aye-aye family:
- 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.
Need to Know: Denver Zoo, 2300 Steele St., Denver. Open year-round (closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day). Winter hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., grounds close at 5 p.m. $10-$15.