In 2016, a Namibian truck driver discovered a baby aardvark leaning against one of the tires of his vehicle. After looking around for the aardvark’s mother, the driver decided to leave the tiny, hairless baby in the capable hands of Dr. Erika de Jager of ZURI Orphanage in Tsumeb, Namibia. Unsure what to do, Dr. de Jaeger relied on her instincts, using trial and error. The aardvark, named ET, absolutely thrived in the care of this veterinarian and her dogs.
It was love at first sight for me. …We had to experiment a lot with different teats,” de Jager said. “We also fed him, in the beginning, a local brand of kitten milk, but he did not do well. It was only after we received some advice from a lecturer at Onderstepoort that we had a better idea of what to feed. We then started to feed him the imported milk and he immediately started to pick up weight. …The dogs were interested in him and just reacted as if he was another puppy. They are used to baby animals like goats and warthogs [at the orphanage], so it was nothing unusual for them. They just played with him like he was one of them.
ET has since been released into the wild, but he makes his way home every night. Perhaps he just wants to see little Gertie, another aardvark in de Jaeger’s care.