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Naked into the World: Amani the Baby Aardvark

As we have said in the past, cute is in the eye of the beholder. Newborn baby aardvarks may not be your typical bundle of furry joy, but keepers and mama aardvark, Raachael, at the Detroit Zoo are enamored with their most recent arrival, baby Amani, born Dec. 8th.

Baby Aardvark Amani Detroit Zoo Photo

Oversized ears and a long snout make aardvark's experts at seeking out and slurping up termites. However, their relatively primitive brains (for a mammal) make them rather clumsy so keepers are keeping a close eye on the new family.

Baby Aardvark Amani Detroit Zoo


ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The Detroit Zoo’s newborn aardvark, Amani (Swahili for “peace”), was born at 1:05 a.m. on December 8 to mother, Rachaael, and father, Mchimbaji. The Zoo is awaiting DNA test results to determine the sex.

The 23-inch infant arrived hairless, weighing 3 pounds, 10 ounces, with ears measuring 4 inches. “This baby can only be described as hideously cute,” said Director of Conservation and Animal Welfare Scott Carter. “Rachaael is a first-time mother and is showing great maternal instincts.”

Due to the aardvark’s clumsy nature and poor eyesight, veterinary and zookeeper staff are assisting Rachaael with raising the fragile baby to prevent the possibility of it being injured. Since the birth, Amani has more than doubled in size. Adult aardvarks can weigh from 90 to 145 pounds and grow 5 to 6 feet in length.

The aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is an African mammal whose name derives from the Afrikaans word “earth pig”. The animal’s unusual appearance plays a part in its success as a forager. The ears point forward to enable it to listen for the sound of insects. 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 long, sticky tongue which can be up to 12 inches long.

Amani will be seen with Rachaael and Mchimbaji across from the giraffe habitat in the spring of 2009 with the Zoo’s other aardvarks, Amy Bob and Lily.