San Diego Zoo Announces Birth of First Aardvark Cub in Over 35 Years: ‘New Princess Dirt Pig’

First-time aardvark parents — mother Zola and father Azaan — welcomed the aardvark cub on May 10 at the California zoo

Aardvark Cub is First Born at San Diego Zoo in More Than 35 Years

For the first time in over 35 years, a baby aardvark is padding around California’s San Diego Zoo.

On June 14, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SDZWA) introduced the San Diego Zoo’s “new princess dirt pig,” announcing that the aardvark cub was born May 10 to first-time parents Zola and Azaan.

The female cub, which has yet to be named, rarely leaves her mother’s side and will nurse from Zola for about six months, according to the SDZWA. The baby aardvark will start eating insects when she reaches two to three months of age. When the baby aardvark is full-grown, in about a year, she will be independent and weigh up to 140 pounds.

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“We are elated to have this little cub in our care,” Cari Inserra, the San Diego Zoo’s lead wildlife care specialist, said in a release. “She is very active and was using her sharp claws to dig like an adult aardvark, just hours after her birth.”

“Zola is an excellent mother, and nurses her cub frequently. The cub is developing quickly and has tripled her birth weight from just over 4 pounds to over 13 pounds in just five weeks,” Inserra continued. “We can’t wait until we are able to introduce the cub to our Zoo guests, helping them learn more about this remarkable species.”

Native to sub-Saharan Africa, the aardvark is a unique species with a name derived from Afrikaans, meaning “earth pig,” the SDZWA shared.

The San Diego Zoo’s latest addition was born through a breeding recommendation from the Species Survival Plan by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“Aardvarks are classified as a species of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, despite the fact the total population of aardvarks is not known as they are rarely seen due to their nocturnal and secretive habits,” the SDZWA said. “They are currently at risk due to human population growth causing loss of habitat and hunting.”

For now, Zola and her cub will remain in a private habitat for two months while they bond. When she is ready, Zola will bring her cub outside to be viewed by visitors during a wildlife presentation at the zoo.