A is for Aardvark

and today was my day to test out on the creatures of Africa. The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) at LPZ is aptly named Hoover and he spends most of the day in his burrow, a space adjacent to the meercats. Aardvarks have been dining almost exclusively on termites for millions of years (a formicivore!); occasionally they’ll eat an aardvark cucumber ( Cucumis humifructus)– an odd little fruit that grows underground.

Hoover is a stanky kind of guy; he has some serious musk going. I can’t think that even in the wild these animals are exactly jumpin’ and jivin’ and they’re not the least bit endangered; Hoover is not really trophy material and his odor would put off any appetite. You would think he might notice with that snout but then who ever does own that they’re stinking up the place? He’s sort of like the general contractor of the savanna: with his sturdy webbed feet, he’s an enthusiastic digger and he has numerous burrows that, once abandoned, make good homes for other African animals.

Hoover was one among many today, including various species of cichlids, the klipspringer and the Hottentot Teal. And then there was the whole Rift Valley geological thing and Lake Victoria overrun with Nile Perch as the ultimate paradigm for invasive species. I’m tuckered out but a step closer to completing the docent program.

Before I doze off, I’ll share these two pictures I got in an e-mail late this afternoon. The Rockhoppers over in Sea Birds have a baby! I’m assuming the keeper took these because no one else is getting close yet. This little penguin will stay safely hidden in papa’s brood patch for several weeks before he’s toddling out and about.Tom_and_chick_day3


8 responses to “A is for Aardvark

  1. What a cutie pie that little penguin is, but I must say, I do have difficulty with the whole feeding by regurgitation thing. It is something I have never been able to handle… thank goodness I didn’t try to be a dentist…. just thinking about it makes me queasy. Give me blood and bones and colon contents any day.

    I bet you are tired. Hopefully, my mom will be going back to the rehab place tomorrow. And perhaps I will hear those words from the loan guy… “all is set”. The title company set the closing at 10 AM on Friday!

  2. Hmmm, yes, watching Papa Penguin feed Junior makes me think back most fondly on those days of breast feeding — even the early ones that didn’t go so well!

    Love the aardvark! We could use some around here — we have a SERIOUS carpenter ant problem in this area! Wonder if its from all the TREES around here . . . this being a forest and all! Sigh. And while he is stinky . . . at least he’s useful which is somewhat different from those black and white garbage beggers we get around here.

  3. Great photographs! That’s really up-close and intimate.

  4. When my son was in college, he soon learned that we were not going to continue forking over the $500 per month spending money he was requesting…LOL. He had to find a way to make some cash, so he started a carpet cleaning business and named it Aardvark, so he could be first in the phone book. Hoover is a great name for an aardvark!

    The baby penguin is precious, but it seems odd to see them on rocks instead of snowy tundra!

  5. I know what you mean, Judy- we usually associate penguins with arctic and snow. But think about this guy’s name. 😉 Rockhoppers, children’s animated films aside, live in the Falkland Islands and other southernmost South American islands. So, while it’s cold, it’s not really snow covered like the arctic areas. At LPZ these small penguins (about 22 inches/ 8 #) live happily with Chinstrap and King penguins in a large exhibit that is kept at about 40 degrees, water same, and they have 18,000 gallons of water and a pretty amazing, rocky, cliff area. They have a whole house to themselves and some other sea birds (puffins, murres) and the house is on a light cycle that simulates the day length they would have in the wild (so sometimes it’s pretty dark in there.) Some days they are given ice floes to play with/on. They have all been born in captivity and LPZ is part of a conservation/breeding program. These birds are considered “vulnerable” in the wild because of habitat loss.

    I guess you can get a feel for my job at the zoo by my response to your comment. I’m really loving talking to people about what they see, think, experience at the zoo.

  6. You know I’m loving the penguins shots! And the name, Hoover, is too funny.

    You are a docent extraordinaire, I do believe.

  7. Oh, see, I was going to leave the lyrics to “Smells Like Funk” by the Black Eyed Peas… but then thought better of it. Let’s just say, it’s your Aardvark’s theme song. 😀

  8. Interesting post!

    And, you have been tagged with the 8 things meme.

    See the rules, etc., at http://wanderinweeta.blogspot.com/2007/06/and-meme-goes-on.html .

    You’re it!

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