Long time ZooBorns readers and anyone whose read our books will know Amani the Aardvark, born in December of 2008. Today, Detroit Zoo announces the arrival of Amani's kid sister, Roxanne, born on January 8th. “Aardvarks are believed to be relatively plentiful in the wild, but not in zoos. Babies like Roxanne are special because they’re both uncommonly cute and just plain uncommon,” said Detroit Zoological Society Chief Life Sciences Officer Scott Carter. “We’re excited to have our third baby Aardvark in two years and to help this small population in zoos grow.”
Detroit Zoological Society veterinarians and zookeepers are monitoring Rachaael and Roxanne closely. Aardvarks are small, hairless and fragile at birth, and aardvark mothers are sometimes clumsy and can accidentally injure their little ones. Roxanne weighed less than 4 pounds at birth and has since more than quadrupled in size. Mature aardvarks can weigh from 90 to 145 pounds and grow 5 to 6 feet in length.
“Aardvarks are the real estate developers of their African grassland communities,” said Carter. “They dig tunnels and burrows with ease, which are used by other animals when the aardvarks move on.”
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The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) 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 to enable it to listen for the sound of insects during its 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 and the most hard-packed earth, allowing the aardvark to trap insects with its long, sticky tongue which can be up to 12 inches long.