A SECOND aardvark, or anteater, has been born in a Spanish wildlife park – and staff at Valencia's Bioparc say the new arrival and his mother are doing very well.
Mum and baby live in an area designed to reflect the African savannah as closely as possible – their natural habitat – allowing her to seek food overnight and sleep during the day.
Aardvarks, who eat ants and plants, search for food in the dark, although babies suckle in the daytime when their mothers are asleep.
Mother aardvarks only have one child at a time, and she carries the baby inside her for 243 days.
Her baby spends the nights alone in the deep hollows the mother digs out to ensure the youngster is kept warm.
To ensure the animals behave exactly as they would in the wild, the baby is removed from his mother by Bioparc workers overnight, so as to keep him protected while the mum goes food-hunting.
During this time, staff make sure the baby is cleaned, and weigh him and keep his skin moisturised.
If necessary, he is given a glucose and saline solution to keep his strength up.
He is being checked every six hours, his body temperature and the humidity of his environment monitored.
A humidifier has been installed to ensure his environment temperature never drops below 28ºC.
During the day, while his mother sleeps, staff make sure the baby is feeding off her properly every two hours between 06.00hrs and midnight.
The Bioparc reveals once the baby's bodyweight reaches 2.5 kilos, they will not have to keep tabs on him so much – this usually happens at around two weeks after the birth.
At the moment, he is being kept out of public view, but is likely to be able to be seen by visitors within a few weeks.
His father and younger sister – born in 2014 – can be seen by visitors, who wander around among the animals' natural environment.
Valencia's Bioparc centre is the only wildlife park in Spain which has managed to get anteaters to reproduce more than once, as it is a very rare and endangered species even within its native environment.
Photograph by Valencia Bioparc