Chicago's Brookfield Zoo is happy to announce the birth of an Aardvark on January 12, 2012. Because of the dedicated care provided by the Society’s zookeepers, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and nutritionist, the now healthy 13-pound calf has a bright future ahead of it. Although the calf will not be on exhibit for several months, zoo guests will be able to view it via a live video monitor In the near future.
A newborn Aardvark, which weighs about 4½ pounds at birth, is very fragile for its first few weeks of life. To ensure its best chance for survival, Animal Programs staff decided to assist the calf’s 7-year-old mom, Jessi, in rearing her infant. Since its birth, the unsexed calf has received around-the-clock care that has included a neonatal examination and extra hydration and supplemental feeding when needed to make certain it is healthy and gaining the proper amount of weight. The supplemental Aardvark formula the calf receives replicates the fat, carbohydrates, and other nutrients of a mother Aardvark's milk composition.
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For several weeks following its birth, the calf spent nights at the zoo’s Animal Hospital being cared for by the veterinary staff and brought back to its mom in the mornings. Aardvarks are nocturnal and Jessi sleeps during the day, giving the calf uninterrupted time to nurse and get all the nutrients it can from its mother’s milk. This scenario mimics what would take place in the wild: a mother aardvark would leave its burrow to go forage for food during the night and return in the morning to sleep while the calf nurses.
Since 1992, there have been nine aardvarks born at Brookfield Zoo…for more on aardvarks go to www.CZS.org/aardvark.