Growing Up the Aard Way

Growing Up the Aard Way

An aardvark by the name of Gertie was brought to vet Erika de Jager’s attention at her practice in Tsumeb, Namibia, after she was separated from her mother. The poor mammal was immensely dehydrated and knocking on deaths door before Erika nursed her back to health and eventually, decided to keep her as a pet!

Now Gertie believes she might not be an aardvark after all...

According to Erika, 54, who runs a wild animal orphanage, Gertie loves nothing more than playing with the other eight dogs in Erika’s household, especially when they go out for walks. However, Gertie herself doesn’t seem to realise that she's at all dissimilar to her fellow pack of canines. 

Erika said, “Gertie is the second aardvark we’ve raised. She’s just one of the dogs – I don’t think she or they know any different. She sleeps next to my bed – aardvarks are extremely clean animals, and will never mess in the house.

“As soon as she wakes up she walks to the door and we take her out, just like the dogs. Everyone loves Gertie – she loves going out for walks with me and the dogs. She’s very lovable and inquisitive and she loves being around us.

“The difficult part will be releasing her – she thinks she’s a dog, so we are saving to build her an enclosure so she can stay part of the family, but still be semi-wild in nature.

“There is very little known about aardvarks, so it’s interesting for me to be able to observe Gertie as a pet. Our house is always full of animals – I love them and I’m lucky to be in a profession that allows me to live my dream.”

I think Erika might have a tough time reintroducing Gertie to the wild though, as I think she looks pretty content right where she is...

Images courtesy of Caters News Agency.

George Welsby

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