Afer, the oldest anteater in Europe and father of five children, has died. He was 32 years old.
The Colchester Zoo resident was euthanized last week after the England facility’s animal care team noticed he was less active than usual. Blood tests were done and a veterinarian was consulted before making the “difficult but kinder decision”.
“This was a very sad day for everyone,” a Colchester Zoo spokesperson said in a statement obtained by SWNS. “Afer had a wonderful personality and will be greatly missed by the animal care team, as well as many adoring visitors.”
Born on May 7, 1991 at Royal Burgers’ Zoo in the Netherlands, Afer moved to Colchester in 2017.
He was the father of five, including three born at Colchester Zoo with the help of his partner OQ.
Her three cubs, Ottis, Estie, and Njaa Njaa, have been transferred to other European zoos as part of a breeding program.
Afer eventually became a grandfather to two young men.
For his part, OQ has had 11 cubs in Colchester that have been transferred to other zoos.
OQ also has 20 great anteaters.
He is now the only anteater left in Colchester, leaving zookeepers scrambling to find him a mate.
“We look forward to receiving a recommendation from the European Studbook Keeper to find a mate for OQ, but in the meantime, the animal’s care team will ensure it receives extra care and enrichment,” the Colchester Zoo representative said.
“OQ also shares his home with a group of rock hyrax who occasionally snuggle up with each other, so he has company in Aardvark Burrow.”
Aardvarks are small, nocturnal, pig-like animals known for their long, sticky tongues. They tend to live up to 23 years in captivity and have grown in popularity thanks to the PBS children’s show “Arthur.”
Last year, the San Diego Zoo announced the first anteater birth in nearly four decades.