A female Aardvark born at the Detroit Zoo on February 11 weighed less than four pounds at birth and has since more than quadrupled in size. The baby, named Kaatie, is the third offspring for 10-year-old Rachaael and 11-year-old Mchimbaji.
“Kaatie is healthy and adorable, and seems to be enjoying her time with mom, nestling in close and nursing throughout the day,” said Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals Elizabeth Arbaugh.
Animal care staff have been monitoring Rachaael and Kaatie closely since the calf was born. Aardvarks are small and fragile at birth, and the mothers are sometimes clumsy and can accidentally injure their little ones. “We are ready to intervene should mom decide to roll over or get up for a snack,” said Arbaugh.
The Aardvark 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, enabling it to hear tasty insects during 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, allowing the Aardvark to trap insects with its sticky tongue, which can be up to 12 inches long.