Adorable images show the first ever baby aardvark born at Chester Zoo which keepers have nicknamed Dobby, due to its resemblance to the Harry Potter character.
The calf was born overnight on January 4 to its eight-year-old mother, Oni and father, Koos, six. The ant-eater, which is native to sub-Saharan Africa, was born with droopy ears, completely hairless, wrinkly and with giant claws.
The word aardvark translates to “earth pig” in the language of Afrikaans. The nocturnal animals use their long noses and keen sense of smell to sniff out ants and termites, which they lap up with a long tongue measuring up to 25cm, covered in sticky saliva. The animals use their powerful claws to tear open termite mounds, as well as to dig underground burrows in which they sleep.
“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,” the zoo’s team manager, Dave White, said in a statement.
The baby is currently being hand-reared each evening by staff who will feed it every few hours through the night for around five weeks, to help it gain strength.
“Aardvark parents are notorious for being a little clumsy around their newborns,” White explained. “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.”
Dobby weighed in at 1kg – lower than the common weight of a aardvark calf of 2kg. It is the primary to be born at Chester Zoo within the charity’s 90 yr historical past.
White mentioned: “This is the very first aardvark to be born on the zoo and so it is a momentous landmark for us and an actual trigger for celebration. We’re overjoyed.” “We will not although know for sure whether or not it is male or feminine for a number of extra weeks till the calf is a little bit older.”
With only 66 aardvarks found in zoos across Europe, and a mere 109 in zoos worldwide, Chester is one of just a small number of zoos caring for the species.
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.