When Gertie the adorable little aardvark initially arrived at the ZURI Orphanage in Namibia, she was very weak, dehydrated, covered all over in sores and had recently been orphaned.
Thankfully, good Samaritan and orphanage founder Erika de Jager knew exactly how to take care of Gertie. She bottle-fed her and made her feel comfortable in the dog beds in the orphanage so that she could sleep as long as she preferred.
Aardvarks are naturally nocturnal, which means they sleep in the day and are awake at night. But when Gertie was just a child, she slept for most of the day and night.
But she’s older now, about 4 months according to Erika. She’s not old enough to be released into the wild, but she is getting more active and playful which is a good sign, except that it’s usually when Erika is getting ready for bed.
“Last night at 12 a.m. she decided it was time to play,” Erika tells The Dodo. “As I was trying to sleep, she stood up with her little feet on the bed. All I saw were these big ears.”
Outside of the orphanage, Erika works as a veterinarian. One of her main jobs is going to a neighboring farm where she treats a couple of horses. Since Gertie is still a vulnerable baby who needs the constant supervision, Erika brings her along.
Gertie also loves spending time with Erikas dogs, Spokie and Zarah. “Gertie will follow Zarah and just walk with all the dogs,” de Jager says. “They will often lick her and she will follow them.”