Meet London Zoo's aye-ayes
Thursday 2 June 2005
With their razor-sharp teeth and scarily long middle fingers, only the very brave will seek out London’s Zoo eeriest creature, the intriguing aye-aye
The aye-aye is the world’s largest nocturnal primate and the only member of its family, Daubentonia madagascariensis. Our resident aye-ayes, Mamy and Tany, have luminous yellow eyes and a bushy tail to help them keep their balance as they jump through the trees.
Feared as an omen of death, the aye-aye has become the most endangered mammal in their native Madagascar. Losing their habitat to farming and logging, aye-ayes caught raiding crops are often killed on sight. In an effort to conserve this rare animals, London Zoo’s aye-ayes are part of a captive breeding program.
Solitary creatures, the aye-ayes sleep in their nests during the day and spend most of the night searching for food. To mimic their natural habitat, Mamy and Tany live separately, in specially lit enclosures, designed to reflect the seasonal light changes of Madagascar.
Aye-ayes are believed to be the only primates to use echolocation when searching for food. Tapping decomposing logs and branches with their long middle finger, aye-ayes use the vibrations to locate the insects living within. They use their strong teeth to rip open the bark and their specially adapted claw to fish the grub from its hiding place.
At London Zoo, our aye-ayes are fed a nutritious diet of pellet mash, fruit tea, honey and a variety of tropical fruit. To condition their continuously growing teeth, Mamy and Tany are given Brazil nuts and hazelnuts, as well as waxworm bamboo sticks to chew on. Both Mamy and Tany love to tap on anything they can find, from broomsticks and chairs to their keepers’ shoes!
Why not come and visit our aye-ayes and help us conserve these and other endangered animals by supporting London Zoo.
These animals are no longer on show at ZSL London Zoo. Find out more about our other animals.