_DSC7545EDSHP_cm 3621 nighthawk (2)
Nighthawk, a 25 year old male fat-tailed dwarf lemur died recently at the Lemur Center. DLC veterinarian Cathy Williams wrote: “Nighthawk was the second oldest dwarf lemur ever at the Center, exceeded only by the legendary Jonas who lived to be 29.6 years old (a record some feel will never be broken). It’s truly amazing that such little animals can live so long. Perhaps that speaks to the benefits of hibernating half of your life!”
Long a staff favorite, Nighthawk lost an eye to glaucoma in August, 2015, and had cataracts in his other eye (rendering him effectively blind ), yet he continued to live in a free range nocturnal room which he shared with his family until April 2016. In fact, Nighthawk had free ranged, mostly in tour path rooms, since at least 1998, providing countless DLC tour participants with their first glimpse of the fascinating fat-tailed dwarf lemur. He was also a participant in several important research projects, including the groundbreaking Lemur Center torpor project starting in 2008 by Klopfer and Krystal. Even then he was considered a bit elderly, but in those days there were no young fat-tailed dwarf lemurs at the DLC.
The idea for this photo was conceived by Nighthawk’s primary keeper, Brittany, who brought the empty container from home in early January to use for dwarf lemur enrichment (it is the perfect size for a small nocturnal’s nestbox), and suddenly realized it had Nighthawk’s name written all over it. Although he was a bit “torpory” during the photo shoot, and could barely keep his eyes open, with Brittany’s encouraging words he managed to stay awake for a few shots, and the resulting image seems to perfectly capture the old guy’s spirit and spunk. Weeks after his death, DLC staff continue to mourn the passing of Nighthawk, a true unsung hero of the Lemur Center!