Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team
Date: February 13, 2022 4:45 pm
The first ever aardvark infant to be born at Chester Zoo is seen cuddling with his mother
Photo Credit: Chester Zoo
Chester Zoo have introduced the first ever aardvark calf to be born at the zoo in their 90 year history. Born overnight on January 4th 2022 the calf was discovered snuggled up with mum Oni (8) and dad Koos (6).
Dave White, Team Manager at the zoo, said: “This is the very first aardvark to be born at the zoo and so it’s a momentous landmark for us and a real cause for celebration. We’re overjoyed.
To help ensure the calf is able to survive it is being cared for by keepers. They care for it during the night providing food. This will continue for up to 5 weeks while it is gaining strength.
At birth the calf had large droopy ears, hairless wrinkled skin and giant claws. Keepers noted a resemblance to the much-loved Harry Potter character, Dobby and thus he had a nickname.
“As soon as we spotted the new baby next to mum we noticed its uncanny resemblance to the Harry Potter character, Dobby, and so that’s the calf’s nickname for the time being! We won’t though know for certain whether it’s male or female for several more weeks until the calf is a little older," added Dave.
“Aardvark parents are notorious for being a little clumsy around their newborns. With the baby being so tiny and fragile, we’re therefore protecting it from any accidental knocks and bumps by helping mum out with supplementary feeding sessions throughout the night, just until the calf is a little stronger. So, in the evening, when the parents are out exploring and feeding, we carefully place the calf into a special incubator and take it home to feed with warm milk every few hours. The calf then spends the daytime bonding and snuggled up with mum Oni inside her burrow – and they’re both doing great together.”
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Aardvarks are rare in zoos with just 66 across Europe and 109 globally.
Mark Brayshaw, Curator of Mammals at the zoo, added:
“Aardvarks are quite secretive creatures, which are mostly only ever active in darkness, and so some aspects of how they go about their lives remain relatively unknown. Caring for species like aardvarks in zoos enables us to learn more about them - how they live, their behaviours and their biology. All of this information is then shared with other leading conservation zoos and helps to better inform our efforts to preserve their numbers."
“This new calf joins a conservation breeding programme that only a handful of zoos are part of globally.”
Aardvark is a word which translates to "earth pig" in Afrikaans. They are active by night when they will use their powerful claws to access termite mounds.
Dobby the aardvark is being cared by animal care staff at Chester Zoo
Photo Credit: Chester Zoo
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