By Jack Williams
This is the adorable first footage of one of the rarest newborn lemurs.
Agatha, a big-eared, wide-eyed aye-aye, is one of only 24 of her species in North America, with aye-ayes as a whole currently classified as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
When she was born, on June 7, 2017, lovable Agatha weighed only slightly more than a Snickers bar, two-thirds of the birth weight for a typical aye-aye.
Named after mystery writer Agatha Christie, the primate was born at Duke Lemur Center, North Carolina, USA.
Agatha is the first of her species to be born at the center for six years, and caring for an aye-aye for 30-plus years of its life can cost around $8,400 a year, a member of staff said.
Sara Clark, director of communications for Duke Lemur Center, said: “We were so thrilled.
“Our director said – and it’s a true statement, not hyperbole – that she hadn’t been this happy about the birth of baby primate since her son was born.
“I think we all felt like that.
“But it was a long road: she was very underweight for an aye-aye infant and the veterinary staff provided round-the-clock care for her until she was able to be cared for exclusively by Medusa [her mother].”
Aye-ayes are nocturnal primates, and, like other lemurs, are native to the island of Madagascar.
It has been estimated that there are only between 1,000 and 10,000 left in the wild, and because of the beliefs of some villagers in Madagascar, this number is constantly under threat.
Some villagers believe lemurs are evil omens who can curse a person by simply pointing at them.
This has resulted in many of the animals being killed on site.
Accompanying Agatha’s birth to parents Medusa and Poe have come congratulatory message from all over the world, Sara said.
For the next two or three weeks, Agatha will remain with Medusa, allowing her to learn how to forage for food, make a nest, as well as other aye-aye survival skills.
After that, she will either remain with her mother or be paired with a male, either at the center or another zoo.
Sara said: “She’s becoming more active, chewing and tapping on branches and venturing a bit further from mom, though they still sleep together in the same nest box.
“It’ll be about two years until Agatha is considered mature, and she’s still nursing.
“Although, recently, she’s begun to take more of an interest in solid food.
“We have an online wishlist, and people are logging in and sending gifts of delicious mealworms and other treats to our aye-ayes, which is amazing – sort of like a baby shower.”