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Rare baby aye-aye born at Duke Lemur Center

Aye-ayes are an endangered species, and there are only 25 of them currently in the U.S.
Credit: Duke Lemur Center

The night is dark and full of...lemurs? A rare aye-aye was born at Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina last month. The nocturnal creature native to Madagascar was named Melisandre, after the "Game of Thrones" character.

Melisandre, or "Mel," is one of nine aye-ayes at the Duke Lemur Center and one of only 25 in the United States. The nocturnal primates with bushy tails and bony fingers are an endangered species. 

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Some in Madagascar think aye-ayes are "evil omens" and can curse a person by pointing their bony middle fingers at them. Therefore, many aye-ayes are killed on sight, according to the Duke Lemur Center. Additionally, logging, slash-and-burn agriculture and hunting on the island are suspected to have cut the aye-aye population by half in recent decades.

The aye-aye doesn't deserve it's "evil' reputation, however. According to Duke Learning Center curator Cathy Williams, they're actually gentle creatures. 

"They’re not at all aggressive, they’re extremely curious and energetic and they’re very intelligent — they learn very quickly," she said in a statement.

Mel's parents are Adrey, a 23-year-old aye-aye and Grendel, who is nine. Her granparents, Morticia and Poe (maternal grandparents) and Endora and Nosferatu (paternal grandparents) were the first aye-ayes ever to be imported to the U.S.

Visitors won't be able to see Mel yet, as she's spending the next two years with her mom while she learns survival skills like foraging and nest building. Her grandmother Endora will be at the center for visits, however. 

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