Cleveland Zoo debuts its first aye-aye

6:07 PM, Jan 17, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- There's a new creature on display at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo that is steeped in superstition.

In its native land of Madagascar, the aye-aye carries a bad reputation of bringing bad luck -- even death -- simply based on its eerie appearance.

While similar to a lemur, the aye-aye has proportionately larger eyes, ears and fingers. It is seldom seen, but is often killed on sight due to the fears many natives have associated with it.

Click here to see pictures of the Cleveland Zoo's aye-aye

The aye-aye's unique looks are specifically adapted to help it hunt in the dark for insects and larvae. It taps branches and tree trunks listening for bugs burrowing beneath the bark. Then it gnaws away the bark and uses its long, skinny finger to scoop out its meal. At the zoo, the aye-aye can be seen using its finger to hollow out the pulpy insides of grapes, leaving the skin behind.

There are six types of primates that can be classified as a prosimian, including the lemur, tarsier, aye-aye, loris, potto and bush baby. The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has five different species of lemur, one species of loris, the potto, the bush baby, and now the aye-aye, a 17-year-old female from the Duke University Lemur Center.

The aye-aye, which made its debut at the zoo on Tuesday, is on display in the primate, cat and aquatics building.


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