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Aadorable Aardvark Aarrives at Detroit Zoo

Tom Roy/Detroit Zoo

Tom Roy/Detroit Zoo

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – A female aardvark was born at the Detroit Zoo February 11, 2014, the third offspring for 10-year-old Rachaael and 11-year-old Mchimbaji. Named Kaatie, the calf weighed less than 4 pounds at birth and has since more than quadrupled in size. Mature aardvarks can weigh from 90 to 145 pounds and grow 5 to 6 feet in length.

“Kaatie is healthy and adorable, and seems to be enjoying her time with mom, nestling in close and nursing throughout the day,” said Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals Elizabeth Arbaugh.

Animal care staff have been monitoring Rachaael and Kaatie closely in the 30 days since the calf was born. Aardvarks are small and fragile at birth, and the mothers are sometimes clumsy and can accidentally injure their little ones. “We are ready to intervene should mom decide to roll over or get up for a snack,” said Arbaugh.

The aardvarks stay indoors during the cold-weather months but can be seen outdoors in their African Grasslands habitat across from the giraffes come spring.

The aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is an African mammal whose name derives from the Afrikaans word “earth pig”. The animal’s unusual appearance plays a role in its success as a forager. Its large ears point forward to enable it to listen for the sound of insects during nocturnal feeding forays. 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 and the most hard-packed earth, allowing the aardvark to trap insects with its sticky tongue, which can be up to 12 inches long.

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Detroit Zoo’s Newest Star Gives Visitors Reason to Ooh-Ooh and Ahh-Ahh

Tom Roy / Detroit Zoo

Tom Roy / Detroit Zoo

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Zuhura – Swahili for “morning star” – is the stellar name given to a female chimpanzee born in the early morning hours of August 10, 2013, at the Detroit Zoo’s Great Apes of Harambee.

Zuhura is the first baby born to mother, Chiana, 19, and the third in five years for father, Imara, 18, who also sired female Akira, 2, and male Ajua, 4, with 26-year-old Akati. The baby also represents the Detroit Zoo’s inaugural second-generation chimpanzee birth; mom Chiana was born at the Zoo in 1994 to Abby, who is now 30.

“It’s exciting to have three generations of chimps represented here,” said Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals Robert Lessnau. “Chiana is proving to be a great first-time mom.”

Zuhura can be seen clinging to Chiana as she carries her around the Great Apes of Harambee. Visitors can spot them climbing trees outdoors on sunny days and hanging out in the habitat’s spacious indoor dayrooms during inclement weather.

The Great Apes of Harambee is a 4-acre indoor-outdoor habitat that houses chimpanzees, western lowland gorillas and drills. The primates spend their days foraging, grooming and playing, just as they would in their native African environment.

Zuhura’s birth is the result of a recommendation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan, a cooperative population management and conservation program for endangered and threatened species. There are 255 chimpanzees in AZA-accredited zoos in the United States, and Zuhura is one of only four chimps born this year.

The Detroit Zoological Society is a nonprofit organization that operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Zoo. Situated on 125 acres of naturalistic habitats, the Detroit Zoo is located at the intersection of 10 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue, just off I-696, in Royal Oak, Mich. The Detroit Zoo is open 362 days a year, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through Labor Day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the day after Labor Day through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March. Admission is $14 for adults 15 to 61, $12 for senior citizens 62 and older, and $9 for children 2 to 14 (children under 2 are free). The Belle Isle Nature Zoo is open Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March; closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Admission is free. For more information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit www.detroitzoo.org.

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