Prague aardvark headed to Olomouc

Nyoto is leaving to start a family, but her mother is already expecting a baby here

In the era of online dating, many people have gone long distances to meet someone. Similar technology is used by zoos to find partners for lonely animals. A female aardvark from Prague Zoo named Nyota has been shipped to Zoo Olomouc to become a sort of mail-order bride for a suitable male aardvark.

Zoos keep databases of animals and their ancestry and use the data to prevent inbreeding and match other suitable characteristics such as age and disposition. It is a bit more complex than swiping left or right on a dating app.

The Prague Zoo said that breeders on both sides believe that the new couple will create the next generation of these remarkable African mammals. The Prague Zoo still has other aardvarks and expects new births to replenish the local population.

Nyota was born on August 20, 2016, at the Prague Zoo and quickly became a popular star. The birth of aardvarks in human care is not uncommon, but young mothers often have difficulties. The newborns often also need constant human monitoring if the mother is inexperienced.

“Even after the birth of Nyota, we held a 24-hour watch for her for about a month so that her mother Kvída wouldn’t accidentally lose her,” Prague Zoo’s head breeder Jaromír Plný said in a press release.

Even though Prague breeders have to say goodbye to Nyota, they feel great satisfaction. “The fact that our youngster gets the chance to have her own cub is for us the materialization of all our efforts," Plný said.

People won’t need to travel to see baby aardvarks, though. Prague Zoo says that Nyota’s mother Kvida is pregnant again.

“Occasionally, we check Kvida with ultrasound. From the last check, we know that the cub is alive and developing without abnormalities. Gender is not yet determined, but what we can say with certainty is that the female is in a late stage of pregnancy, so the birth can be expected within the next few weeks,” Prague Zoo veterinarian Roman Vodička said.

Prague Zoo had a good year in 2017. Attendance in 2017 was just short of the record and the second-highest ever. Some 1,445,126 visited, only 3,227 visitors behind in the record year of 2016. There was also the birth of 1,261 youngsters of 219 species of mammals, birds and reptiles.

In April, the zoo welcomed its 60 millionth visitor since it opened on Sept. 28, 1931.

One of the most significant births was three male and two female cheetahs. They were born May 15 with 6-year-old mother Savannah and 5-year-old father Ben.

Two critically endangered Malayan tiger cubs were born Oct. 3 to 11-year-old female tiger Banya and 10-year-old male Johann. There are only 200 to 400 Malayan tigers still alive in the wild.

The only palm cockatoo bred in 2017 in a European zoo and the very first naturally bred one in a Czech or Slovak zoo hatched April 20.

In September, Prague Zoo was named the fifth best zoo in the world by travel website TripAdvisor. The ranking is based on visitor reviews. The zoo took fourth place in 2015 and seventh place in 2014; no ranking was published in 2016.

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