Colchester Zoo are saddened to report that at the grand age of 32 years, Afer the Aardvark sadly passed away on the 3rd June 2023. Afer was the oldest Aardvark in Europe and had 2 grand-aardvarks!


Afer lived a full life, he was born on 7th May 1991 at Royal Burgers Zoo in The Netherlands. Colchester Zoo was Afer’s home since 2017, he was a father of 5 with 3 of those young being born here at the Zoo with our remaining female Aardvark OQ.

The 3 offspring were named Ottis, Estie and Njaa Njaa, all of which have since transferred to other Zoo’s across Europe as part of the breeding programme. Ottis went on to have a male offspring called Willow who has recently transferred to Royal Burgers Zoo in The Netherlands where both his grand-aardvarks, Afer and OQ, were born! 

The Animal Care Team had noticed that Afer was less active than usual in recent weeks and therefore he was being monitored closely by the team and the Zoo Vet who took blood samples. On Saturday 3rd June, the Animal Care Team saw he was not himself and called in the Vet who advised the difficult but kindest decision would be to euthanise Afer following the recent blood test results and with his welfare in mind.

This was a very sad day for everyone, Afer had a wonderful personality and will be greatly missed by the Animal Care Team as well as many visitors who adored him.

Offspring, Njaa Njaa

After having one of the largest and most successful breeding groups of Aardvark in Europe, OQ is now currently the only Aardvark at Colchester Zoo. Since living at Colchester Zoo, OQ has had 11 offspring, all of which have transferred to zoos in Europe and the UK. As a result of this breeding success, OQ now has 20 grand-aardvarks!

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. OQ also share 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 unique animals only found in the savannahs, grasslands, woodlands and bushlands in Africa. They are currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

Aardvarks are nocturnal therefore visitors are most likely to see OQ curled up asleep inside on a visit unless attending one of our late-night openings where you may get the chance to see her up and about exploring the burrow.

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