Aye-aye twins born at the Zoo - a worlds first

We've welcomed the arrival of aye-aye twins.

Mother Sabrina, age 11, has a lot of experience raising young but looking after twins is a first for her and indeed female aye-ayes the world over.

Considered by many as the strangest species of primate, aye-ayes are also the world’s largest nocturnal primate with an unusual appearance and feeding habits. Physical characteristics include extremely large ears, a middle finger which is skeletal in appearance and is used as a primary sensory organ.

Baby aye-ayes tend to feed from their mothers for up to a year and with two to feed, there is a great demand on mum Sabrina. Keepers at Bristol Zoo say they’ve had to closely monitor the family to ensure that both youngsters thrive in equal measure without putting too much strain on their mother.  

Lynsey Bugg, Assistant Curator of Mammals said: “Sabrina is doing great job with her young but it isn’t without a lot of effort. The twins are physically demanding and it is testament to Sabrina that she and the twins appear to be doing really well. Whilst we are keeping a close eye on the group, we try to adopt a hands off approach and encourage a family dynamic close to one they would experience in the wild.”

Native to Madagascar, the aye-aye is at the centre of many local superstitious beliefs; some of which protect the species, whilst others result in persecution.

Once thought to be extinct, aye-ayes are classified as Endangered in the wild. Due to deforestation and persecution the population dramatically declined and by 1980s only a few individuals were thought to remain. Recent research shows that aye-ayes are more widely distributed than previously thought and sightings have increased but experts say that there still could be as few as 1,000 of them left. Bristol Zoo, along with other European zoos, is leading a community-based conservation programme in Sahamalaza, northwest Madagascar, which aims to protect aye-ayes and other lemurs in their wild habitat.

The aye-ayes can be found in the Zoo’s Twilight World exhibit.


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