A truck driver in Namibia was ready for his shift, so he checked his vehicle’s tires, just like he always does before taking off. Only this time a tiny, unexpected visitor was curled around one of the tyres. It was a baby aardvark – an elusive mammal native to South Africa.
The first thought that came to the driver’s mind was to search for the little one’s mom, but unfortunately there was no sign of her. Assuming he might be all alone, the truck diver decided to help the tiny aardvark, so he carefully took him and put him inside the truck. Once they arrived at the truck company’s headquarters, they called Dr. Erika de Jager – a local vet, who also runs ZURI Orphanage , a small rehabilitation center for orphaned animals.
Dr. Erika was more than happy to take the tiny aardvark in; to offer him the love and comfort he needed. “It was love at first sight for me”, the woman told The Dodo.
Even E.T. how she named him, was the first aardvark she had to take care of, Dr. Erika was confident everything would be fine and the poor little thing will made it through. “We had to experiment a lot with different teats,”she said. “We then started to feed him the imported milk and he immediately started to pick up weight.”
At the orphanage, the nearly three month-old aardvark started to interact with the two rescue dogs there, Spokie and Zarah. And Dr. Erika could not believe her eyes how fast they befriend each other. For E.T. socializing with other animals was exactly what he needed to emotionally heal.
“The dogs were interested in him and just reacted as if he was another puppy,” Dr. Erika said. “They are used to baby animals like goats and warthogs [at the orphanage], so it was nothing unusual for them. They just played with him like he was one of them. He slept with the dogs and in the dogs’ beds like a baby. I don’t think ET realized he was an aardvark. I think he just assumed he was a dog!”
After five months at the center, E.T. made a fully recovery and he was strong enough to be released in the wild, where he belongs. However, according to Dr. Erika he still comes back to visit his adoptive mom and his old friends.