Two aardvarks (Orycteropus afer) named Nacho and Terry have been scurrying around their new home at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, exploring their exhibit, which opens to the public on Saturday 6 August.
The charismatic creatures are the first aardvarks to live at the UK's largest zoo in its 90-year history.
The young insectivores have spent their first week exploring their new digs and building vast, dirt tunnels across their large habitat.
Nacho (8) and Terry (2) will be joined by two porcupines and two meerkats in the new labyrinthine enclosure, which features viewing windows into the nocturnal creatures’ snug sleeping areas. Lucky visitors may even see them sniffing around their habitat in the early evening, when the creatures scamper outside to ‘start their day’.
Team leader Sarah McGregor said: “I can’t wait for our visitors to see these incredible creatures for themselves. I think a lot of people have never seen an aardvark in real life, and they are so enigmatic and fascinating.
“It’s been so wonderful to get to know Nacho and Terry over the past week. Already, it’s clear that Nacho is a calm and confident female, while Terry, who is only two, has been zooming around the dirt mounds, and, like many youngsters, only eating dinner on his own terms!
“They are clearly delighted with their new surroundings and have exhausted themselves every night, digging through and climbing on the extensive dirt mounds.
“It’s also really exciting to have the three species together. Our new porcupines Kimya and Tiombe are still quite shy, but we expect them to grow in confidence as they settle into their new home. Our two meerkats were already here at the Zoo but are now being introduced to what must feel like the biggest “house extension” ever! We have lots of flexibility with different spaces that can either be joined up or separated, so we will take our time letting all the animals get to know each other and decide the best sleeping arrangements for them all as we learn their favourite spots.”
Families can explore the new exhibit and even try their hand at digging like a meerkat themselves, then take on a life-size ‘hungry hippos’ game on a giant inflatable, at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s The Ultimate Animal Challenge, which runs throughout the Summer holidays, from Saturday 23 July – Sunday 4 September.
For the perfect family day out during the school holidays, book an adventure here.