Obviously, these precious animals’ voices need to be heard.  You can help them.  See the information below this article.

The Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina welcomed, Elphaba, a baby aye-aye.

See the slender fingers of the aye-aye.

As if ceaseless environmental destruction isn’t enough to cause so much misery to wildlife, rumors and superstition seem to be putting the finishing touches on. 

Unfortunately, for humans and monkeys alike, there is a yellow fever outbreak in Brazil.  While the disease is caused by mosquitoes, howler monkeys are falsely being blamed for it.

According to Roberto Alves is manager of the Vectorially Transmitted Illnesses Technical Vigilance Unit at Brazil’s Health Ministry.  He is tracking the outbreak and said that the death of any primate requires notification to health services.  The notifications can sometimes come from environmental protection workers or from the community itself, those concerned that the monkey has passed on the virus to its members.

“Since we only discover the circumstances of death after the fact, we sometimes discover that some primates didn’t have natural deaths but violent ones,” Alves said. He added that “This information does not represent the total, but it’s a sample of what happens in some regions.”

Since yellow fever can be acquired by all primates – including the native monkeys – people automatically conclude that the virus was transmitted by the monkeys – which in turn causes their senseless slaughter.

Disturbingly, residents began shooting and beating monkeys to death after the deaths of 11 yellow fever patients in the small town of Ladainha. One farmer in a rural village in the state of Minas said she believes that people are killing the monkeys, because she heard gunshots and then noticed fewer primates in the area.


Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of superstition and rumor in the rest of the world.

Let’s look at what’s happening to the aye-aye, a lemur native only to Madagascar. According to Wikipedia, the aye-aye is the smallest lemur in the world, only two feet from head to tail.  They have a thin, elongated finger which is used to tap into trees in order to pull out insects under the bark. The aye-aye was thought to be extinct due to the unfounded fear many Malagasy’s have of this harmless animal, but they were rediscovered in the 1950’s.

There are so many superstitions about the aye-ayes.

Here are just some:

  • If an aye-aye points his thinnest tapping finger at you, he has marked you for death. In fact, that clever finger is used to dig insects out of trees.
  • Aye-ayes can break into houses in the night and kill a human by piercing the heart with that same long, thin finger.

Those who believe these superstitions kill aye-ayes on sight.

Those who are not subject to superstition, realize aye-ayes are adorable because of their large eyes that melt the heart, yet they have been demonized to the point where some Malagasy instead see them as fearsome. 

These are just two examples of how supposedly rational humans will kill our animal neighbors when under the influence of superstition and fake news.

Governments must take action to counteract superstition with education, and pass laws to protect these maligned animals for the sake of the species and the individual animals themselves.  Finding the correct contact information in time for publication was challenging.  We are still waiting for confirmation.  Meanwhile a starting point is here:

For Brazil;

Minister of Education: Mr. Mendoca Filho Tel: (61)2022-7828 / 7822 ; Email: and Minister of Environment: Mr. Jose Sarney Filho, Tel: (61)2028-1057/1289/ 1422

For Madgascar;

Minister of National Education of Madagascar: Mr. Paul Andrianiaina RABARY Tel: 032-07-732-32 / 034-07-732-32; Email:; Madagascar Minister of Environment, Ecology and Forests, Madame Johanita NDAHIMANANJARA

As well, please contact Charles Welch at the Duke Lemur Center who was extremely helpful in providing government contact information.


In the United States, some people are also taken in by similar influences that result in harm to animals.  Think about how some people here react to seeing a black cat around Halloween, especially a black cat who crosses their path.