Aardvark Receives Life-Saving Blood Transfusion In Example of 911 Cooperation Between American Zoos

An aardvark owes its life to a true 911 response between two Ohio zoos, according to the

Cincinnati Enquirer. (Note: link to article broke. )

Aaardvarks (Orycteropus afer) are medium-sized burrowing mammals native to Africa. The name means “ground pig” in Afrikaans, a dialect of Dutch. They burrow for ants and termites at night and have no close relatives. They are sometimes confused with South American anteaters but are not related. Their numbers are considered stable and they are “least concern” for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Ali the aardvark receiving blood transfusion. Photo courtesy Cincinnati Zoo and Botantical Garden

The paper said the story involves two aardvarks. Ali is an 18-year-old female at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Her benefactor is Kiazi, a 9-year-old girl at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Ali has dental problems and needed to have dental work performed. She was taken from Cincinnati to Columbus for dental work performed by veterinary dentist Dr. Jamie Berning, The surgery was involved and included both extractions and infection control. Berning is the first female board certified veterinary dentist in Ohio. Surgery went well. Ali returned home but subsequent blood work showed serious problems. According to the paper:

“Ali was also very tired, would not eat and would not move around much because she was so weak from her low blood levels,” said Jess Heinz, an associate veterinarian at the Cincinnati Zoo. “Aardvarks are a unique species and cannot receive cat or dog blood, so she needed blood from another aardvark.”

An aardvark from South Africa misidentified as an ant-eater/ n400_w1150 by BioDivLibrary is licensed under CC-PDM 1.0

The Columbus zoo transfused blood between the two aardvarks and the results were rapid. Veterninarians cautioned that Ali has a long road ahead to full recovery because of age and she also needs further dental work. The Cincinnati Zoo thanked the Columbus Zoo for its timely assistance.

<em>Nasutitermes fumigatus</em> (Brauer, 1865), Weathered Wood Termite
There are about 2,000 types of termites and 12,000 types of ants on earth. Aardvarks are unlikely to starve even if they eat 50,000 a night.Nasutitermes fumigatus (Brauer, 1865), Weathered Wood Termite by Unknown photographer is licensed under CC-BY 4.0

The event is good publicity for the Columbus Zoo. The zoo became famous due to its association with Jack Hanna, a wildlife expert. Hanna was a frequent guest on television talk shows. He was the zoo’s director and eventually director emeritus. He was a brand ambassador for the zoo. But serious troubles resulted and the zoo lost a key accreditation, which it is working to earn again.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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