2lbs Baby Aardvark Resembling Dobby from Harry Potter Born in Celebration at Chester Zoo

Adorable images show the first ever baby aardvark born at Chester Zoo which keepers have nicknamed Dobby, due to its resemblance to the Harry Potter character.

The calf was born overnight on January 4 to its eight-year-old mother, Oni and father, Koos, six. The aardvark, which is native to sub-Saharan Africa, was born with droopy ears, completely hairless, wrinkly and with giant claws.

The baby is currently being hand-reared each evening by staff who will feed it every few hours through the night for around five weeks, to help it gain strength.

Dobby the aardvark, pictured here with mother Oni, left, was born overnight on January 4. Keepers have yet to determine Dobby’s sex as this is a difficult process for aardvark calves

Dobby weighed in at 2lbs – less than the average weight of a aardvark calf of 4lbs. It is the first to be born at Chester Zoo in the charity’s 90 year history.

Dave White, team manager at the zoo, said: ‘This is the very first aardvark to be born at the zoo and so it’s 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.

‘We won’t though know for certain whether it’s male or female for several more weeks until the calf is a little older.

Dave White, team manager at the zoo, said: ‘This is the very first aardvark to be born at the zoo and so it’s a momentous landmark for us and a real cause for celebration. We’re overjoyed’

Aardvarks have a seven-month gestation period according and newborn calves normally weigh-in at around 4lbs. Keepers have been helping Dobby’s mother by feeding the little aardvark to build up its strength

Baby Aardvark in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Baby Aardvark in the Okavango Delta, Botswana[/caption]

There are only 66 aardvarks in zoos in Europe and a 106 across the globe. ‘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 by helping mum out with supplementary feeding sessions throughout the night, just until the calf is a little stronger.

‘So, 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.

Keepers have been helping Dobby’s mother by feeding the little aardvark to build up its strength

‘The calf then spends the daytime bonding and snuggled up with mum Oni inside her burrow – and they’re both doing great together.’

Aardvarks are threatened by habitat loss as a result of agricultural development, which also bring them into conflict with local farmers.

They are also hunted for their meat.

With only 66 aardvarks found in zoos across Europe, and 109 in zoos worldwide, Chester is one of just a small number of zoos caring for the species.

The word aardvark means ‘earth pig’ in Afrikaans from their habit of using their powerful claws to rip open termite mounds

Mark Brayshaw, curator of mammals at the zoo, added: ‘Aardvarks are quite secretive creatures, which are mostly only ever active in darkness, and so some aspects of how they go about their lives remain relatively unknown.

‘Caring for species like aardvarks in zoos enables us to learn more about them – how they live, their behaviours and their biology.

Adorable photos show the first ever baby aardvark born at Chester Zoo

Mark Brayshaw, curator of mammals at the zoo, said: ‘This new calf joins a conservation breeding programme that only a handful of zoos are part of globally’

The word aardvark means ‘earth pig’ in Afrikaans from their habit of using their powerful claws to rip open termite mounds

Aardvark

‘All of this information is then shared with other leading conservation zoos and helps to better inform our efforts to preserve their numbers.

‘This new calf joins a conservation breeding programme that only a handful of zoos are part of globally.’

Aardvark (Orycteropus Afer) – Lifestyle, Diet, and More – Wildlife Explained

The word aardvark translates to ‘earth pig’ in the language of Afrikaans.

The nocturnal animals use their long noses and keen sense of smell to sniff out ants and termites, which they lap up with a 10-inch long tongue covered in sticky saliva.

Aardvarks use their powerful claws to tear open termite mounds, as well as to dig underground burrows in which they sleep.