When an orphaned baby aardvark made her way to the ZURI Orphanage in Namibia, the founder didn’t hesitate to bring her in and care for her until she could be released back into the wild.
Yet baby aardvarks need round-the-clock care, which posed a problem for founder Erika de Jager, who works as a full-time vet. Luckily, however, de Jager’s loving dogs and the neighbor’s dogs stepped up and started helping raise the baby aardvark named Gertie.
De Jager makes sure Gertie is well fed throughout the day and night, since aardvarks are nocturnal, and even brings her along while she sleeps during the day to a neighboring farm where she treats animals since Gertie needs constant supervision. And when Gertie wakes up during the day, she gets to play with de Jager’s dogs, Spokie and Zarah, and the neighbor’s dogs, Krummel and Zettie.
“Gertie will follow Zarah and just walk with all the dogs. They will often lick her and she will follow them,”de Jager said. “Krummel fell in love at first sight,” de Jager says. “She didn’t leave [Gertie] alone for a minute. She followed her around everywhere. Sometimes dogs have a strong motherly instinct and will look after babies. I suspect Krummel is like this.” Zettie, on the other hand, was slower to warm up to Gertie. “She was a bit scared of Gertie,” de Jager said. “But once she realized that Gertie was a great new friend, she was the happiest little puppy.”
Eventually, Gertie will be released to the wild, but she’s just over four months old and needs much more care. “She’s not even eating yet,” de Jager said. “She still drinks out of a bottle. Gertie will be with us for still a long time.”
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[Featured image: ZURI Orphanage]