Have you seen pictures of these delightful little creatures? They’re called Aye-ayes, and they are widely distributed across the jungles of Madagascar. (Any genetic link between aye-ayes and Gollum remains unconfirmed.)
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified these harmless mammals as “Near Threatened.” So, helping them reproduce, as an aye-aye breeder, may also keep the species from becoming extinct.
Actually, I don’t believe you can import Aye-ayes as pets—unless you’re one of those rich or famous people to whom the laws for regular people don’t apply. But, if it is possible to adopt an aye-aye, I offer the following pros and cons for your consideration.
Pro: Some people think they look cuddly.
Con: Some people think they look creepy.
Pro: They don’t demand attention all day long.
Con: They’re nocturnal and might keep you up at night.
Pro: People will think you’re on the cutting edge.
Con: People will think you’re one odd cookie.
Pro: They have tiny mouths.
Con: They are omnivores, and eat other animals.
Pro: Most people consider them exotic animals.
Con: They clearly resemble devilish gremlins.
Pro: Daubentonia madagascariensis are lemurs.
Con: They’re not nearly as cute as their lemur cousins.
Pro: In an emergency, they’re edible.
Con: In an emergency, they’re edible.
Pro: Aye-ayes may reveal God’s imagination & humor.
Con: Aye-ayes just may have a less heavenly origin.
The picture to the right, a close up view of the aye-aye’s “hand” lends credence to the last conjecture, above. It also evokes nightmarish memories of a story that traumatized my youth, “The Monkey’s Paw.”
C.S. Lewis acknowledges the danger posed by possessing too much love—an idolatrous affection—for pets. Of course, there are other things we can love that way with even less justification than an animal.
There is a reaction at present going on against the excessive love of pet animals. We have been taught to despise the rich, barren woman who loves her lap dog too much and her neighbor too little. It may be that when once the true impulse is inhibited, a dead poet is a nobler substitute than a live Peke, but this is by no means obvious.
You can do something for the Peke, and it can make some response to you. It is at least sentient; but most poetolaters hold that a dead man has no consciousness, and few indeed suppose that he has any which we are likely to modify. Unless you hold beliefs which enable you to obey the colophons of the old books by praying for the authors’ souls, there is nothing that you can do for a dead poet: and certainly he will do nothing for you.
He did all he could for you while he lived: nothing more will ever come. I do not say that a personal emotion towards the author will not sometimes arise spontaneously while we read; but if it does we should let it pass swiftly over the mind like a ripple that leaves no trace. If we retain it we are cosseting with substitutes an emotion whose true object is our neighbour.
Hence it is not surprising that those who most amuse themselves with personality after this ghostly fashion often show little respect for it in their parents, their servants, or their wives. (“The Personal Heresy: A Controversy”).
Yes, as Lewis so ably points out, it’s far more important to care about the personhood of our neighbor today . . . rather than a departed writer. (Coincidentally, Lewis would object with equal eloquence to Lewisolatry.)
If we cannot express our goodwill to other people, it’s better directed towards dogs and aye-ayes than someone departed from this world.
Which brings us back to the subject at hand. These furry little creature may not be the objects of the latest pet craze now, but it may be possible for you to initiate a new fad!
To make that possibility a bit more likely, allow me to close this column with a picture of a lovely aye-aye in its natural habitat. Now, that’s an animal one could easily consider cute and cuddly (as long as it keeps its paws to itself).