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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

AMANI THE BABY AARDVARK




AMANI THE AARDVARK ARRIVES PEACEFULLY AT 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.

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