Meet Dobby: UK zoo welcomes its first aardvark born after 90 years

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A zoo in the United Kingdom has witnessed the birth of an aardvark calf for the first time in 90 years. The staff at the Chester Zoo in Cheshire have named the animal Dobby after a Harry Potter character that resembles the newborn’s hairless wrinkled skin and dangling ears.

The aardvark was born on January 4, 2022, but its sex was determined only recently. On Friday, the Chester zoo tweeted that Dobby is a girl, much to the enthusiasm of animal lovers. “Can’t wait to visit Dobby soon,” a person tweeted.

Currently, Dobby is being hand-reared by experts at the Chester Zoo. On its website, the zoo explained that aardvarks are “notorious for being a little clumsy around their newborns”. Therefore, to protect the newborn from accidental harm caused by the mother, the zoo supports the baby with “supplementary feeding sessions throughout the night, just until the calf is a little stronger”.

Dave White, the team manager at Chester Zoo, elaborated, “In the evening when the parents are out exploring and feeding, we carefully place the calf into a special incubator and take it home to feed with warm milk every few hours. The calf then spends the daytime bonding and snuggled up with mum Oni inside her burrow – and they’re both doing great together.”

Aardvarks, which are native to sub-Saharan Africa, are rarely found in zoos. According to the Chester Zoo, there are only 66 aardvarks in zoos across Europe. Due to human encroachment of wild habitats and insistent hunting, the population of aardvarks is declining in the wild.

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