‘A’ Is for Aardvark at Burgers’ Zoo


Burgers’ Zoo, in the Netherlands, recently welcomed a new Aardvark cub! The healthy baby was born the end of July and has been carefully monitored by zookeepers.

Burgers’ Zoo, under the authority of the EAZA, manages the European breeding program for the Aardvark. They are the only zoo in the Netherlands to house this special species.


3_11807685_1008322749240617_8542890582731456660_oPhoto Credits: Burgers' Zoo

The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal that is native to Africa. It is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata.

The Aardvark is stout with a prominently arched back and is sparsely covered in coarse hair. The limbs are moderate length, with the rear legs being longer than the forelegs. Their weight is typically between 130 and 180 lbs. (60 and 80 kg). Their length is usually between 3.44 and 4.27 feet (105 and 130 cm). They are typically 24 inches tall (60 cm). The Aardvark is pale yellowish gray in color and often stained reddish brown by soil it sorts through. The coat is thin, and the skin is tough.

The Aardvark is nocturnal and feeds almost exclusively on ants and termites. They will emerge from their burrow in late afternoon and forage for food over a range of about 6 to 18 miles from home. While foraging, they keep the nose to ground and ears pointed forward. When concentrations of ants or termites are detected, the Aardvark digs into the mound with powerful front legs and will take up the insects with their long, sticky tongue. It is possible for the animal to take in as many as 50,000 ants and termites in one night.

The Aardvark is mostly quiet, but will make soft grunting sounds as it forages and louder grunts when engaged in burrowing.

Aardvarks have a gestation of about seven months. They generally give birth to a single cub from May to July. When born, the young have flaccid ears and many wrinkles. After two weeks, the folds of skin disappear and after three weeks the ears are upright. At 5-6 weeks, body hair starts growing. They are weaned by about 16 weeks, and can dig their own burrow by 6 months of age. The young often remain with the mother till the next mating season.

The Aardvark is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. However, they are a species in a precarious situation and are declining in number as their food supplies begin to dwindle.

Colchester Zoo Welcomes Last Newborn of 2014


On December 22, 2014, Colchester Zoo’s Aardvark, ‘Oq’, gave birth to a healthy baby! 


DSC_1227Photo Credits: Colchester Zoo

The exciting new arrival was the Zoo's last newborn of 2014 and is doing well! Both mom and keepers have a close eye on the baby during these early days.

The Aardvark is a unique animal, only found in Africa. They are almost exclusively nocturnal and love to sleep during the day, curled in a tight circle in their burrow. 

Aardvarks, such as Colchester Zoo’s group, have thick skin which is sparsely covered by hairs and varies in color from brownish grey to a pale sand. The newest little one is currently a hairless light grey, but within 12 months, it will be fully grown, just like its mother, and will soon be venturing out of the burrow. 

Aardvarks enjoy a diet mainly made up of insects, such as ants and termites. Once fully grown, an adult Aardvark can eat up to 50,000 of insect prey in one night!

The new arrival also joins the Zoo’s two other resident females ‘Puq’ and ‘Skyla’, and its dad ‘Adela’ can be seen at Colchester Zoo’s Aardvark Burrow.

With the latest arrival this group continues to be the most successful breeding group in the UK and one of the most successful groups in Europe. 

Aardvark Aarives at Detroit Zoo

Aardvark Kaatie (3) by Tom Roy

A female Aardvark born at the Detroit Zoo on February 11 weighed less than four pounds at birth and has since more than quadrupled in size. The baby, named Kaatie, is the third offspring for 10-year-old Rachaael and 11-year-old Mchimbaji.

Aardvark Kaatie (1) by Tom Roy
Aardvark Kaatie (4) by Tom Roy
Aardvark Kaatie (2) by Tom RoyPhoto Credit:  Tom Ray

“Kaatie is healthy and adorable, and seems to be enjoying her time with mom, nestling in close and nursing throughout the day,” said Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals Elizabeth Arbaugh. 

Animal care staff have been monitoring Rachaael and Kaatie closely since the calf was born. Aardvarks are small and fragile at birth, and the mothers are sometimes clumsy and can accidentally injure their little ones. “We are ready to intervene should mom decide to roll over or get up for a snack,” said Arbaugh. 

The Aardvark is an African mammal whose name derives from the Afrikaans word “earth pig.” The animal’s unusual appearance plays a role in its success as a forager. Its large ears point forward, enabling it to hear tasty insects during nocturnal feeding forays. The snout is long and filled with hair that acts as a filter, letting scents in and keeping dirt out. Strong limbs and spoon-shaped claws can tear though the sturdiest of termite mounds, allowing the Aardvark to trap insects with its sticky tongue, which can be up to 12 inches long. 

Take a Peek into an Aardvark Den

1 aardvark

A warm welcome to this little Aardvark born at Bioparc Valencia in Spain! The cub was born on January 25. 

After a gestation period of about seven months, Aardvarks give birth to a single cub, born hairless with floppy ears and wrinkled skin. Their ears perk up at about three weeks old. This little guy is starting to grow hair, and will be weaned by three months old.

2 aardvark

3 aardvark

4 aardvarkPhoto credits: Bioparc Valencia

Aardvarks live in sub-Saharan Africa in a range of ecosystems, from savannas to woodlands and bushlands. They eat ants and termites. They are also important seed dispersers for the Aardvark cucumber, the only kind of fruit that they eat. 

They are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a species of Least Concern. However, some populations may be in decline. It is difficult to keep track of their population numbers because Aardvarks are elusive and active at night. 

See more photos after the fold!

Continue reading "Take a Peek into an Aardvark Den" »

Another Aardvark Calf for Colchester Zoo

Aardvark Baby edited 13 small

Colchester Zoo’s group of Aardvarks welcomed a healthy offspring on March 15, adding to the most successful Aardvark breeding program in the United Kingdom, and one of the most successful groups in Europe. The calf, whose gender has not been confirmed, was born to female Aardvark Oq.

Aardvark baby8
Photo Credit:  Colchester Zoo

Sarah Forsyth, one of Colchester Zoo’s curators, said, “We believe the baby is female and she has grown a great deal already! She is starting to venture into the outside enclosure at night and as usual, Oq is proving to be a great mother.” The new arrival will be named by keepers once the sex is confirmed.

Oq and baby are currently housed in the birthing burrow while the baby grows stronger. When the youngster is strong enough, they will join the rest of the group, who are notoriously clumsy. Until Oq and baby join the group on exhibit, visitors can see them via closed circuit television.

Aardvarks are native to grasslands and open woodlands throughout sub-Saharan Africa. They feed on ants, termites, and fruits. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Aardvarks are listed as Vulnerable due to changes in land use and intensive crop farming.

Antwerp Zoo's Baby Aardvark Gets A Little TLC


Last week, Antwerp Zoo in Belgium welcomed a pink, wrinkly and bald bundle of joy. Born to mom Curly, the baby Aardvark is recieving around the clock care from keepers. Though its upright ears and weight are a sign of good health, nursing has been a challenge for Curly. The cub feeds every three hours, and the keepers must often hand-nurse. Currently the sex of the cub is unknown. Once the sex has been determined, a name will be selected.




There are currently 45 Aardvarks in zoos throughout Europe and only about 30 in the US. Aadrvarks are native to sub-Saharan African, where they eat ants, termites, fruits and other insects. The name Aardvark comes from the Afrikaans word "erdvark", meaning "earth pig", likely due to the animals ability to dig and burrow.

Photo Credit ZOO Antwerpen / Jonas Verhulst

Busch Gardens' Baby Aardvark Heads out for a Stroll

Busch Gardens Aardvark 3

Sporting a wrinkly pink birthday-suit (standard issue for a baby Aardvark), Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's newest resident took one of its first outdoor strolls yesterday. The cub, whose sex is still unknown, is the third for prolific mother and father, Izzy and Frtiz. Sister, Adazee, and brother, Zawadi, were both featured on ZooBorns when they were born in March 2012 and April 2011 respectively. The cub is primarily being cared for by its mother but Busch Gardens' staff are also providing a bit of support as adult Aardvarks have a reputation for clumsy parenting. 

Powerful diggers, Aardvarks can slurp up tens of thousands ants or termites in a single night and grow up to 120lbs or more. Follow the cub's progress on Busch Gardens' blog.

Busch Gardens Aardvark 4

Busch Gardens Aardvark 1.jpgPhoto credits (above): Adam Lewis / Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

(Below) Matt Marriott / Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Big Sister Aardvark Adazee (more here)

Busch Gardens Aardvark Adazee

Big Brother Aardvark Zawadi (more here)

Busch Gardens Aardvark Zawadi

Busch Gardens Aardvark Zawadi 2

Baby Aardvark at Bioparc Valencia First Ever Born in Spain


With ears like a bunny, a body a bit like a pig and a tail like a kangaroo, the Aardvark is quite an unusual animal. This pink baby Aardvark was born on January 14 at Bioparc Valencia, perhaps with a face that only a mother could love. This is a very special event, since it is the first Aardvark ever born in Spain. It weighed 3.4 pounds (1.580 kg) at birth and now, at two weeks old, has already reached 5.8 pounds (2.650 kg). The sex is still unknown.

Since this is an important baby, keepers have kept a careful watch via video installed in the nesting area. They are letting Mom do her job, and she's doing it well. But when she leaves to eat, zoo staff has their opportunity to check the baby, performing a total check on its progress: weight, nutrition, cleaning, and even moisturizing it's skin if needed. This monitoring is performed every three hours, while keeping an eye on temperature and humidity in the habitat. They also watch to see that the baby is nursing roughly every 2 hours. The baby is healthy and growing stronger every day.

AA with mom

AA nurse

AA nap

Photo Credit: Bioparc Valencia

The baby's parents are Dad, Charly, 4 years old, and Mom, Danny, who is 8 years old. Typically the gestation period is about 243 days and there is usually only one offspring, which feeds during the day while the mother sleeps. Since Aardvarks are nocturnal, in the wild a youngster stays alone at night in the deep caves dug by the mother, where it stays warm and safe from predators while she leaves to forage for food. Young remain with their mothers for about 6 months before moving out to dig their own burrows with their powerful feet and claws. This mammal is an omnivore and so will use those same claws to dig for food - mostly termites - which they then extract with their long tongues.

Here is the most recent video of the baby with mom: 

 Read more Aardvark facts, and watch an early video of the baby nursing, after the fold:

Continue reading "Baby Aardvark at Bioparc Valencia First Ever Born in Spain" »

Wrinkly Pink Aardvark Calf Debuts at Henry Doorly Zoo

Aardvark 1

What weighs 16 pounds, has a long snout, and is wrinkly all over?  The new Aardvark calf at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo!

The female calf, which was born on October 8, made her public debut on December 27.  Because her mother has a history of not caring for her offspring, the calf is being hand-reared by zoo staff.   She is displayed next to her parents so she can become familiar with their scent and vocalizations.

Aardvark 2

Aardvark 3
Photo Credit:  Henry Doorly Zoo

Though the effort required to hand-rear an aardvark is significant, it is definitely worthwhile:  only about 30 Aardvarks currently live in twelve accredited North American zoos.

Aardvarks live throughout sub-Saharan Africa, exploiting any habitat where ants and termites are available.  Using their powerful front legs and claws, Aardvarks tear open insect mounds and take up thousands of ants or termites with their long sticky tongues.   Though their skin appears fragile, it is in fact thick enough to withstand a flurry of ant stings or termite bites with no harm to the Aardvark.

Zoo guests are invited to enter a contest to name the calf when they visit her exhibit at the zoo.

Aardvark Baby #8 for Colchester Zoo

Baby Aardvark Asleep at Colchester Zoo1

Colchester Zoo continued its incredible Aardvark breeding success with the birth of an eighth baby, the seventh for mama Aardvark Oq! Colchester Zoo Curator Lisa Doran reported that “Both mum and baby are doing well and baby is a very large and healthy size.”

Oq and baby are currently housed in the birthing burrow whilst the baby grows strong. They will be able to return to the rest of the group within approximately a month, when the youngster will be strong enough to survive any bumps from the rest of the group who are notoriously clumsy.

Aardvark Baby with Mom at Colchester Zoo 2b

Aardvark Baby with Mom at Colchester Zoo 2a

Aardvarks are native to Africa living mainly in the sub-Saharan areas. Their habitat is generally grasslands and open woodland and their diet consists of ants, termites, fruit and other insects.

Anthony Tropeano, Zoological Director at Colchester Zoo said, “We are delighted to have another success with our breeding group of Aardvarks and very proud of the breeding record to date.  Our dedicated keepers are watching the new baby round the clock to ensure that it is thriving and we very much hope that it continues to do well.”

Aardvark baby rolled on back