Baby aye-aye sitting in scale as it is weighed by zookeepers.

Shadow Watch

Adult aye-aye.

Who Are You?

Have you ever seen an aye-aye? Probably not! In fact, most people have never even heard of these strange-looking, small animals. They are a type of lemur, native only to Madagascar, and are nocturnal and hard to spot in their rain forest home. The San Diego Zoo has two adult aye-ayes, and in July 2019, they had a baby.

Baby aye-aye held by a keeper.

Oh, Baby!

Because aye-ayes are nocturnal, they are often already asleep for the day when keepers start work early in the morning. But one morning, keepers found that Styx, the female aye-aye, was still awake. Keepers peeked in her nest and found her snuggling and cleaning a newborn baby.

Baby aye-aye staring straight at camera as it is held in a faux fur blanket by a zookeeper.

The Name Game

One of the many fun things about being a keeper is helping to name baby animals. Often, we like to give a name that comes from the part of the world the animal is from and that has special meaning. For this baby aye-aye, keepers chose the name Aloka. It is a word from the Malagasy language that means “shadow.” It’s a nice name for a nighttime animal from Madagascar!

Baby aye-aye sitting in a scale.

Check-ups

Each day for the first week or so, keepers gave Aloka a quick health check every day. They gave mama Styx a treat while they gently and swiftly picked up the baby, looked him over, and weighed him. Each day he gained a few grams of weight. That told us he was nursing and healthy, which is what we expected. Styx has been a mother before and she does a good job taking care of her young!

Baby aye-aye held by a zookeeper wearing scrubs.

Growing and Going

After a couple of months, Aloka became one active aye-aye. He spends his time running along branches and logs, leaping from spot to spot, and playing with his parents. He has “quiet time,” too, when he cuddles up with his mom and dad and they groom one another. This is one happy aye-aye family!