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Aardvark Born At Chester Zoo After 90 Years

Chester Zoo welcomed a very special new delivery recently—the first aardvark born in the zoo’s 90-year history. The BBC reports that the calf has been named Dobby, after the house-elf in the Harry Potter series, due to its large ears and pink wrinkly skin. However, unlike her namesake, Dobby is female.

Dave White, team manager at the zoo, said: "It is a momentous landmark for us and a real cause for celebration. We're overjoyed. As soon as we spotted the new baby next to mum we noticed its uncanny resemblance to the Harry Potter character, Dobby, and so that's the calf's nickname for the time being!”

Dobby the calf will spend most of her time in an incubator while she is very small, being bottle fed warm milk, owing to the somewhat careless parenting skills of aardvarks.

Mr White explained: "The calf then spends the daytime bonding and snuggled up with mum Oni inside her burrow - and they're both doing great together. Aardvark parents are notorious for being a little clumsy around their newborns. With the baby being so tiny and fragile, we're therefore protecting it from any accidental knocks and bumps…”

Aardvarks are quite rare in zoos, with only 109 around the world, and 66 in Europe. Their natural habitat is sub-Saharan Africa, where they survive by feeding from termite mounds, and live in deep underground burrows. They have powerful claws, and can quickly make new burrows, favouring areas with soft sandy or clay soil.

However, they are a threated species who are hunted for meat, and agricultural development has destroyed much of their natural habitats, according to the African Wildlife Foundation. They are solitary nocturnal animals, who only come together to mate. They have limited eyesight, but a keen sense of smell.

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