With its huge eyes and ears and its elongated fingers, this weird and wonderful lemur is without doubt the world’s most unusual primate.
Long persecuted in its native Madagascar as an omen of death and evil, the aye-aye, like most of its lemur relatives, faces imminent extinction because of the added pressure of deforestation. This elusive species is the largest nocturnal primate and is the island’s answer to the woodpecker, as its specially adapted, flexible and skeletal third finger is used to find nutritious grubs and winkle them out from their woody burrows, in much the same way as a woodpecker’s beak.
Because of the aye-aye’s precarious situation in the wild, Durrell has been working with the Government of Madagascar since Gerald Durrell’s 1990 expedition to collect six of the species to provide an assurance population in Jersey. This breeding programme has to date successfully bred eight new animals at our Jersey site and there has been subsequent collaboration with other institutions to ensure genetic diversity within the captive population.
The Trust has well-established links with the Malagasy people and government, especially involving the conservation of lemurs, and is part of the Madagascar Fauna Group. Since 1964, a great deal of expertise has been gained both at Durrell in Jersey and in the wild with various species. As well as captive breeding, vitally important habitat protection, research, education and training programmes are ongoing. A number of Madagascan students have completed the course at Durrell’s International Training Centre and returned home with the skills they need to carry out such work and help save their native wildlife.
- Aye Aye factsheet (115 kb)
Other Near Threatened Animals