This baby anteater, named after a Harry Potter character, is the first to be born in a UK zoo. ‎

Hug time! Image credit: Chester Zoo

The birth of Dobby the baby anteater broke the news earlier this month. This little anteater girl, named after the beloved house elf from the Harry Potter franchise, is the first anteater born at Chester Zoo in the wildlife park’s more than 90-year history. Her long ears, hairless skin, and large claws are very similar to the features of her legendary namesake.

Zoo staff were delighted with the arrival of baby Dobby.

“This is the first anteater to be born at the zoo, so it is a momentous milestone for us and a real cause for celebration. We are delighted. As soon as we saw the new baby next to mom, we noticed her uncanny resemblance to the Harry Potter character Dobby, and that’s the puppy’s nickname at the moment! – Said Dave White, Chester Zoo team manager. Because anteater parents can be a little clumsy with their newborns, he brings baby Dobby home at night to prevent accidents for the fragile anteater and to provide supplemental feeding sessions.

I am cute? Image credit: Chester Zoo

Dobby spends most of the day bonding and snuggling with her mom, Oni (8), and her dad, Koos (6). This happy little family is part of the 109 anteaters that can be found in zoos around the world. Chester is one of the few zoos in the world that houses and cares for these unusual animals.

The natural habitat of anteaters can be found throughout Africa, mainly south of the Sahara. Although the name of these nocturnal mammals translates as “land pig” and they may actually look like pigs with short necks and long snouts, their closest relatives are, in fact, African elephants. However, anteaters are quite unique, because they are the only species in their family that have survived this long.

When it comes to their diet, aardvarks’ favorite menu item is termites. They evolved in a way that allows them to gently break into hard termite mounds very efficiently. Then, with the help of their long, sticky tongues, they harvest the insects from the nest. While hunting, anteaters are known to consume up to 50,000 insects per night.

An adult anteater emerging from its den. Image credit: Louise Joubert

Unfortunately, anteaters are experiencing habitat loss as a result of expanding human populations and agricultural development. Proximity to humans puts them in conflict with farmers, who also hunt them for their meat.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species lists the species as “least concern.” However, the conservation union does not have up-to-date information on the population of these elusive animals. However, they do note that “in eastern, central and western Africa, numbers may be declining as a result of expanding human populations, habitat destruction and hunting for meat.”

Therefore, the conservation of aardvarks is a really important matter. Dobby’s arrival is a very promising step and gives a ray of hope for the species.

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