PHOTOS: Female Baby Aardvark Born at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Once upon a time, a male aardvark named Willie met his match – a female aardvark named Peanut. The pair soon had their first date, and there was magic in the air. After several months, the perfect pair became a perfect trio, and the rest, as they say, is history.


Meet Karanga, a female baby aardvark born earlier this month at Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. She is the first baby aardvark in her family – and in the park’s history, and animal keepers decided to name her after mom – Karanga means “Peanut” in Swahili.


The animal care team was along every step of the way of Willie and Peanut’s relationship journey. In fact, they played a role in pairing them together as part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is like a matchmaking service designed to help ensure healthy future generations for endangered and at-risk species.


A lot of thought and careful preparation went into Willie and Peanut’s blind date. In fact, seasoned animal care team members Missy, Elizabeth and Jennifer – who have a collective 60+ years of animal care expertise – used their know-how to create a special pre-date spa day for Peanut (please, note that the following photo was taken earlier this year).


Aardvarks are a great example of diversity in the animal world and how a species adapts to its environment. These animals, from Sub-Saharan Africa, are perfectly equipped for rooting and burrowing in sand and dirt. You can see, Karanga has a long snout and tongue, just like mom and dad, that, as an insectivore, will eventually help her sniff out and devour up to 50,000 insects in one night.


Dr. Beth has spent decades providing care for all kinds of mammals here and around the world – in fact, she just celebrated her 25th anniversary in veterinary medicine. Aardvarks hold a special place in her heart and she is very pleased with what she sees in the baby’s health and development so far. Within a few hours after her birth, Karanga had already started digging around in the dirt. This innate skill is important because it’s how aardvarks not only find food, but also how they build the burrows they live in to keep cool.
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