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Rare Primate Born in Denver Zoo Looks Like She’s Constantly Surprised by Life


The (aye)-ayes have it — and by “it,” we mean the most striking peepers we’ve ever seen. Baby Tonks, a rare type of lemur called an aye-aye, was recently born at the Denver Zoo, and she’s already stolen our heart. And not only that, she’s already jumped into the record books.

There are only 24 aye-ayes living in captivity in the United States, and Tonks is now officially the youngest on the list. Because aye-ayes are nocturnal primates, it’s extremely difficult to spot them in the wild. In fact, researchers don’t even know how many exist in their native Madagascar.

Aye Aye Baby Tonks

(Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Denver Zoo)

Tonks was born on August 8 to mom Bellatrix and dad Smeagol. Book lovers will get a kick out of this trio of names: Bellatrix and Tonks are both characters who appear in the Harry Potter franchise, and Smeagol is the fictional ring-obsessed Hobbit in the Lord of the Rings series. Like her father’s namesake, Tonks has piercing eyes and a wispy head of hair. The joke is that Tonks is so ugly she’s cute, but we think her glowering eyes give her the appearance of being adorably shocked or afraid.

Aye Aye

(Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Denver Zoo)

Unfortunately, when Tonks was born, Bellatrix had a few issues taking care of her. “We noticed that Bellatrix wasn’t showing typical mothering behaviors, so we decided to step in to give Tonks some supportive care,” lead primate keeper Becky Sturges said in the zoo’s press release. “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. Now we’re just monitoring them to make sure things continue to go well.”

Because she’s still a baby, Tonks will probably stay in the nest with Mom for a few more months before making her offical public appearance. When she’s fully grown, Tonks might weigh up to five pounds and may live for at least 20 years. Though her floppy ears will eventually perk up, she’ll retain her glowing yellow eyes — and a special spot in our hearts.

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