World Record Holder from Prague Zoo

Director´s view

Miroslav Bobek  |  23. 09. 2023

I preferred not to talk too much about it, not to jinx it and waited patiently until Saturday. Then I went to congratulate Pieta with a handful of mealworms.

The aardvark female Pieta today. Photo Miroslav Bobek The aardvark female Pieta today. Photo Miroslav Bobek

Pieta is our aardvark female. Last Saturday, on September 16, 2023, she reached age of 32 years and 28 days! Already in the last more than a quarter of a year she was the oldest living aardvark not only in Europe, but in the entire world. And now she has broken the historical record! No other aardvark has ever been documented to be older!

Pieta took over the imaginary sceptre of the oldest living aardvark at the beginning of this June from the male Afer, who died in Colchester Zoo in England at the age of 32 years and 27 days. And last Saturday she also surpassed him in overall age. By the way, both – Pieta and Afer – were sired by the same father. Theoretically, the female from Crandon Park Zoo in Miami could compete with these two long-lived aardvark siblings, she was thought to be over thirty years old, but she originated from the wild and only 26 years of her life were documented. In short, Pieta is an indisputable record holder!

Pieta came to our zoo from her native zoo in Arnhem in the Netherlands in 2004. She was already an experienced mother, who had raised four young, among them surprisingly also twins, the females Poq and Puq. When she arrived in Prague, she was pregnant again and she gave birth here to her last young, the female Danny. Her then keeper Lenka Vrabcová recalls how Pieta took excellent care of her young. She also liked digging in the bark in the backyard behind the African House and often tried to climb out of it using huge stones. Taking her off them must have been an unenviable task…

In 2014 we moved Pieta to quarters in the back lot. The company of two younger and much more active aardvarks in African House – Kvída and Draco – didn’t do her good and Pieta suffered from health issues. However, she is satisfied in her “retirement retreat” and keeps in great shape for her age. Let’s wish her as many golden years as possible!