At the Detroit Zoo
Female Rachaael came to the Detroit Zoo in 2005 and was joined by male Baji (short for Mchimbaji, which is Swahili for "one who digs for a living") in 2008. Rachaael and Baji enjoy eating avocados, their favorite treat. The aardvarks can be seen sniffing and digging in their African Grasslands habitat across from the giraffes spring through fall, and can be found indoors north of the bear dens in the cold winter months.
The aardvark has a long, narrow snout; powerful claws; a kangaroo-like tail; rabbit-like ears and long, gray, tan and black hair that covers its back and abdomen. It uses its 12-inch, sticky, coiled tongue to catch insects.
Scientific name: Orycteropus afer
Habitat: Grassy plains, savannahs and woodlands
Size: 5 feet long
Weight: 100-180 pounds
Diet: The aardvark is an omnivore though its diet consists mainly of insects such as termites and ants. It has been known to eat fruit, such as cucumber plants, to get water.
Reproduction: Gestation eight months; single offspring
Lifespan: 23 years
Conservation Status: Least Concern
The aardvark's name comes from the Afrikaans word "earth pig".
The aardvark has poor eyesight and a keen sense of smell, making it well-suited for its nocturnal lifestyle.
Detroit Zoo aardvark in the news
See the feature on the aardvark from the Daily Tribune