Afer — Europe’s oldest aardvark and a father of five — has died. He was 32.
The Colchester Zoo resident was euthanized last week after the England facility’s animal care team noticed he was less active than usual. Blood tests were performed, and a veterinarian was consulted before making the “difficult but kindest decision.”
“This was a very sad day for everyone,” a Colchester Zoo spokesperson said in a statement obtained by SWNS. “Afer had a wonderful personality and will be greatly missed by the animal care team as well as many visitors who adored him.”
Born on May 7, 1991, at Royal Burgers’ Zoo in the Netherlands, Afer moved to Colchester in 2017.
He fathered five, including three born at the Colchester Zoo with the help of female partner OQ.
Their three offspring — Ottis, Estie and Njaa Njaa — transferred to other European zoos as part of a breeding program.
Afer eventually became a grandfather to two youngsters.
For her part, OQ has had 11 offspring in Colchester that have moved on to other zoos.
OQ also has 20 grand-aardvarks.
She is now the only aardvark left at Colchester — leaving zookeepers scrambling to find her a mate.
“We hope to receive a recommendation from the European Studbook Keeper to find a mate for OQ, but in the meantime, the animal care team will ensure she receives extra attention and enrichment,” the Colchester Zoo rep said.
“OQ also shares her home with a group of rock hyrax who occasionally do cuddle up with one another, so she does have company at Aardvark Burrow.”
Aardvarks are small, pig-like, nocturnal animals known for their long, sticky tongues. They tend to live up to 23 years in captivity and have increased in popularity thanks to the PBS children’s show “Arthur.”
Just last year, the San Diego Zoo announced its first aardvark birth in nearly four decades.