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Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) Fact Sheet: Managed Care



  • Age of first reproduction
    • 3.5 yrs (Gibson 2012)
  • Oldest age at reproduction (from Gibson 2012; Gibson and Ivy 2013)
    • Sire 29 yrs
    • Dam: 25 yrs


  • Diet primarily of fruits, vegetables, nuts and insects (EAZA 2011; Quinn and Wilson 2004)
    • Citrus fruits
      • Orange, grapefruit, satsuma
    • Other fruits
      • Plum, apple, avocado, papaya, mango, melons, grapes, lychee, pomegranate, passion fruit, gooseberries, guava, persimmon, coconut
    • Pelleted mixture to provide protein, calcium, and vitamins
    • Vegetables
      • Cucumber, carrot, sweet corn, cooked potato
    • Nuts
      • Brazil, walnut, pecan, peanut, almond, hazelnut, macadamia, sweet chestnut
    • Insects
      • Wax worms, beetle larvae
    • Other
      • Honey, eggs, nectar

Animal enrichment

  • Opportunities to encourage natural foraging
    • Given items to promote searching for and manipulating food (Quinn and Wilson 2004)
      • Mealworms hidden in bamboo and rotten logs provide opportunity to tear and probe
  • Structure is provided to encourage travel throughout an exhibit (Quinn and Wilson 2004)

History of Managed Care


  • Early records
    • 1861: 1st aye-aye, an adult female, on display at the London Zoo (Bartlett 1862; Winn 1989)
    • 1862-1927: 19 individuals were held in 8 zoos
      • Most (13) were at the Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes, Paris; 1880-1927 (Winn 1989)
    • 1932-1982: no individuals housed outside of Madagascar (Feistner and Carroll 1993)

Notable events

  • First birth in managed care April 1992, Duke Primate Center (DPC) (Carroll and Haring 1994; Feistner and Ashbourne 1994; Feistner and Carroll 1993)
    • Wild caught female unexpectedly gave birth to a son, conceived in the wild (Carroll and Haring 1994)

Breeding in Managed Care

  • Limited opportunities for managed individuals to breed prior to 1992
    • Few facilities housed male-female pairs (Simons 1995)
  • Recent breeding efforts begun by Duke Lemur Center
    • Designed to guard against extinction (Feistner and Ashbourne 1994)
    • All aye-aye in North American zoological facilities are decended from this managed breeding program (Gibson 2012)

Current Population

Current North American population

  • 33 individuals, as of 29 May 2013 (from Gibson and Ivy 2013)
    • Housed across 6 Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions and at DPC
    • 16 males and 17 females
  • All are descendants of 6 (wild captured) founders(from Gibson 2012)
    • Founders originally imported to the DPC
    • Target population size of 50

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (from ZIMS 2014)

  • 2 individuals, as of November 2014
    • A male and female pair, housed at the San Diego Zoo

Rare Baby Aye-Aye

What sounds does a baby aye-aye make?

Join our San Diego Zoo primate keepers to find out!

© San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Breeding in Managed Care Guards Against Extinction

an Aye-Aye baby being cared for

Prior to 1992, there were few opportunities for individuals in managed care to breed.

Efforts to propagate aye-aye by Duke Primate Center (now Duke Lemur Center) have resulted in a healthy North American managed care population consisting of over 30 individuals, all of which are descendants of 6 wild caught founders. Efforts by Duke and a select group of AZA institutions help guard against extinction.

Image credit: © D Haring/Duke Lemur Center. All rights reserved.


Page Citations

Bartlett (1862)
Carroll and Haring (1994)
EAZA (2011)
Feistner and Ashbourne (1994)
Feistner and Carroll (1993)
Gibson (2012)
Gibson and Ivy (2013)
Quinn and Wilson (2004)
Simons (1995)
Winn (1989)
ZIMS 2014

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