Photos 1, 3, and 4 by David Haring. Photo
2 by Sara Clark.

Meet Melisandre, a rare baby aye-aye born at the Duke Lemur
Center on August 13, 2019!

The daughter of 23-year-old Ardrey and 9-year-old Grendel,
“Mel” is one of nine aye-ayes at the DLC and one of only 25 of
her kind in the United States. She is Ardrey’s sixth infant and
Grendel’s first.

Melisandra weighed 81 grams on her first weighing on August 14.
Although her birthweight was lower than average, Mel’s keeper,
Matt Cuskelly, observed that despite her small size she seemed
bright, alert, and strong.

Ardrey is an experienced, attentive mother who spends most of
her time inside her nest with her infant. And Melisandre is
thriving: By August 16, she’d grown to 98 grams; and on August
27, she tipped the scales at 210 grams. (Way to go, Ardrey!)




Nocturnal primates with bushy tails and bony middle fingers,
aye-ayes are endangered on
their native island of Madagascar, where logging, slash-and-burn
agriculture, and hunting are suspected to have cut their numbers in
half in recent decades.

Some villagers in Madagascar believe these lemurs are evil omens
and can curse a person by pointing their middle fingers at them;
hence many aye-ayes are killed on sight.

In reality, says DLC curator Cathy Williams, the aye-aye is one
of the gentlest lemur species. “They’re not at all aggressive,
they’re extremely curious and energetic and they’re very
intelligent — they learn very quickly.”

Melisandre’s parents Ardrey and Grendel were deemed a good
genetic match by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA)
Species Survival Plan. Her grandparents — Morticia and Poe
(Ardrey) and Endora and Nosferatu (Grendel) — are the first
aye-ayes ever imported to the United States.

When Poe and Nosferatu arrived at Duke from Madagascar in 1987,
they represented the only aye-ayes in the world within human care.
Morticia and Endora arrived in 1991.

Today, all but one of the aye-ayes in North America — as well
as others overseas in London, Frankfurt, Bristol, and the Jersey
Channel Islands — are descendants of these eight founders.

Melisandre will stay with Ardrey for two to three years while
she learns how to forage for food, build a nest and other aye-aye
survival skills.

Visitors won’t be able to see the new infant, but they can see
her 36-year-old grandmother, Endora. Just be sure to book a tour before

In the meantime, the Duke Lemur Center works diligently to
maintain a genetic safety net for aye-ayes in the wild. Together,
aye-ayes at the DLC and other institutions worldwide form a genetic
safety net for their species, and each new birth helps sustain a
healthy and genetically diverse population of aye-ayes for the
long-term future.

If you want to learn more about aye-ayes AND help support their
care and conservation, please consider symbolically adopting
Agatha, an aye-aye born at the DLC in 2017, through the DLC’s
Adopt a Lemur Program! Your adoption goes toward
the $8,400 per year cost it takes to care for each
 at the DLC, as well as aiding our conservation
efforts in Madagascar. You’ll also receive quarterly updates and
photos, making this a fun, educational gift that keeps giving all
year long! Please visit our Adopt a Lemur
 to learn more.

To learn more about the DLC’s aye-ayes, visit our Meet the
Lemurs webpage

VIDEO! To watch a video of Melisandre taken on
September 19, please click
 or on the screenshot below to be redirected to the
DLC’s YouTube channel. We love her bright, beautiful eyes!


Source: FS – Zoo Borns