Aardvark born at Brookfield Zoo

A baby aardvark with mom, Jessi, at Brookfield Zoo, February 2011. (Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society.)

February 27, 2012 2:21:37 PM PST
It's not easy being an aardvark. Just ask the new baby at Brookfield Zoo, which is constantly being confused with an anteater.

At 40 days old, the aardvark calf doesn't have a name yet. The South African mammal is going by "It." With ears like a donkey, a tail like a rodent and a snout like an anteater, "It" is sure strange looking. And "It" is the first it born at Brookfield Zoo in 10 years.

"Aardvarks are animals that are not generally found in a lot of zoos. They are only about 28 aardvarks in 12 zoos in North America," Joan Daniels, associate curator of mammals at Brookfield Zoo.

"It," who weighed just five pounds at birth, is now up to 15 pounds. And the rest of the aardvark's physical went well, too. This baby aardvark is in double "A" condition.

"Oh, 'It's' great. We had a couple of minor wounds that he had in the past we're checking him now and all the wounds are healed. He is as you can see very strong and very antsy. He's doing perfectly well," Dr. Carlos Sanchez, associate vet at Brookfield Zoo, said.

"It" is spending some time at the zoo hospital and also behind the scenes with its mother, Jessi. Jessi is nocturnal, so the baby is with her during the daylight hours for feeding and then at night and in the morning hours "It" gets that tender loving human care.

"We still don't know if he's a male or a female," Dr. Sanchez said. "Well, they don't normally have external genitalia so we can't tell until they are mature. That will take probably at least a year."

This aardvark eats some ants, but "It" is not an anteater. Aardvark means "earth pig."

"Obviously they are an animal that looks like a pig because they have a long snout kind of looking like a pig and then they are found primarily in burrows," Daniels said.

In the wild, "It" would eat thousands of termites a day.