Endangered, creepy-cute aye-aye born at zoo

OMG! Tonks!

Denver Zoo

“OMG! Ponies!” is an internet exclamation meant to convey extreme cuteness. I would like to propose a new version: “OMG! Aye-ayes!” in honor of the birth of a rare, weirdly cute aye-aye at the Denver Zoo. 

Tonks the aye-aye was born on Aug. 8 to parents Bellatrix and Smeagol. The zoo formally announced her arrival on Thursday. 

Tonks is named for a Harry Potter character, just like her mother. Smeagol, the dad, is named for the Lord of the Rings character better known as Gollum.   

Aye-ayes are stunning-looking animals thanks to their over-sized ears, long fingers, scruffy fur and wide, round eyes. Some may find them homely, but they have a unconventional “aw” factor, if you’re willing to open your heart.

A zookeeper holds baby Tonks the aye-aye.

Denver Zoo

The aye-aye is a species of nocturnal lemur native to Madagascar. They are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species after suffering decades of habitat loss and hunting. 

Aye-ayes are hunted for food, the IUCN reports, and sometimes killed as “a harbinger of evil and as a crop-pest.” 

The Denver Zoo says there are 24 of the elusive primates in US zoos and an unknown number in the wild.

Zookeepers stepped in after the baby’s birth when it seemed Bellatrix wasn’t showing normal mothering behaviors. “We provided 24-hour care for the first week and had to teach Bellatrix how to nurse, but now she is nursing well and Tonks has gained a lot of weight,” said lead primate keeper Becky Sturges.

The zoo posted a video showing a behind-the-scenes look at Tonks’ care. “We all believe that she is beautiful. She is not creepy to us,” Sturges said in the video.

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