SAN DIEGO — A floppy-eared little aardvark cub is digging happily and dawdling around its habitat at the San Diego Zoo after its birth marked a major milestone for the organization.
The female cub, which has not yet been named, was the first born at the zoo in more than 35 years, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance said in a news release this week. It shared video and images of the little critter getting settled in under the watchful eye of its mother.
The animal’s skin, which was hairless, pink and wrinkly when first born, is beginning to smooth out, the zoo explained. The cub has tall ears, a long, strong tail and relatively large, sharp claws that help it dig. Aardvarks have poor eyesight but a keen sense of smell.
“We are elated to have this little cub in our care,” said Cari Inserra, a lead wildlife care specialist, in the zoo’s statement. “She is very active, and was using her sharp claws to dig like an adult aardvark, just hours after her birth.”
The cub’s keepers say it rarely leaves the side of its mother, Zola, and will continue nursing for about six months. It will start supplementing that nutrition with insects starting in two or three months.
For now, the mother and cub remain in an off-view habitat while they bond.
“When Zola is ready, she will bring her cub outside, and guests may see them during a wildlife presentation at the Africa Rocks stage,” the zoo said.
Aardvarks are native to sub-Saharan Africa. They use their strong legs and claws to dig burrows, hiding out in those dark dwellings during the day and coming out in the evening to eat ants and termites with their long, sticky tongues, the zoo explains.
They can eat a staggering 50,000 insects in a single evening.