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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 03:28 GMT 04:28 UK
All eyes on zoo's young aye-aye
Picture of Kintana
Staff at the Zoo say Kintana is growing each day
An aye-aye - a rare species of lemur - has been bred in captivity in Britain for the first time.

The striking animal, with its yellow eyes, pointed ears and spiky hair, has made its first public appearance since its birth at Bristol Zoo in February.

Kintana is also only the second aye-aye to be hand-reared in the world.

The zoo is hailing his birth as a key development in the long-term survival of aye-ayes, which are classified an endangered species.

The nocturnal animals, which are native to the African island of Madagascar, have long been persecuted for their unusual appearance. In some regions, they are killed by local people who believe they are ill omens.

They are also viewed as pests due to their love of plantation crops, such as coconuts and lychees.

Just 10 institutions across the world have aye-ayes in captivity.

Zoo staff have taken advice from experts and have been monitoring Kintana around the clock, as little is known about the aye-ayes' rearing process.

Toothbrush grooming

He will eventually be re-introduced to his mother at the zoo.

Keeper Caroline Brown said: "In the first few weeks, I was feeding him every two hours through a syringe with a plastic nibble, which meant setting my alarm throughout the night."

"At the moment he can sit in the palm of my hand, but is growing every day and can hold his head up and walk about more confidently."

"I've also been grooming him with a toothbrush and applying baby oil to keep his soft skin."

Aye-ayes, which were once thought to be rodents, have large squirrel-type teeth, a slightly scruffy appearance, and a long middle finger which is used to dislodge wood-boring larvae from hollow trees.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Watch baby Aye-Aye Kintana during his dinner time at the zoo



SEE ALSO:
Zoo to unveil 30m wildlife plans
05 Apr 05 |  Bristol/Somerset
Pandas move to find their mates
21 Mar 05 |  Bristol/Somerset
Turtle 'worth its weight in gold'
29 Jul 04 |  Bristol/Somerset
Staff cheer birth of rare lemur
27 May 04 |  Bristol/Somerset


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