BIOPARC Valencia is the first zoo in Spain to breed the Aardvark. On March 4, they welcomed a new member of this rare species.
The new cub spends valuable time with his attentive mother, but zoo staff follow special protocol in monitoring the new baby. Keepers work to ensure the proper cleanliness of the baby and also provide special care for his skin, which includes needed moisturization and a special humidifier. During the day, while mother is sleeping, staff keep a careful eye to maintain that the baby is nursing every two hours.
The new cub was the zoo’s first baby for the month of March. The cub and mother are currently off-exhibit, but, with the continued healthy progress of the baby, staff anticipate visitors being able to view them very soon.
The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal that is native to Africa. It is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata.
According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature): “Aardvarks were originally thought to be congeneric with the South American Anteaters (Myrmecophaga), until they were put in their own genus: Orycteropus. After 1872, Aardvarks were also put in their own order: the Tubulidentata. But this order was long considered to be closely related to the Xenarthrans and the Pangolins in the now obsolete clade "Edentata" (Lehmann 2007). It is only since the beginning of the 20th century, that Aardvarks have been considered to be basal "ungulates". It was also at this time that the seven then recognized species were merged into the single species Orycteropus afer (Shoshani et al. 1988). Since then, Tubulidentata is the only order of Mammals to be represented by a single living species. To date, 18 subspecies have been described (Meester 1971). However, their validity is doubtful and studies in this regard are ongoing. Finally, at the turn of the millennium, molecular phylogenetic analyses integrated the Aardvarks into the new super-cohort Afrotheria, next to Elephants, Hyraxes, Sea-cows, Sengis, Tenrecs, and Golden Moles.”