Hungry I am. An aardwolf (Proteles cristata), too. A hungry aardwolf. Yep, that’s it. A hungry aardwolf. Now get me my food. Now!
This is the elusive critter that David Hone, my esteemed colleague with plenty of zoo experience, and I totally missed seeing during our legendary winter visit. Legendary for me, as it made me aware of how much cooler a zoo the Tierpark is than I was previously taking note of. Dave kept repeating “I’ve never seen this animal before!” The aardwolf was the one animal that we really wanted to see but didn’t. And on my many other visits to the Tierpark – I place I practically live at during summer weekends – the aardwolf stayed elusive. I did see it, but generally just as a furry blur popping out of one hole in the ground and into another one.
So imagine my delight when the Tierpark, under the new director Dr. Knieriem, started announcing the feeding times of some of the animals, and included not only the echidna but also the aardwolf on this list! Obviously, I dragged my children there at the appointed time, 2:15 p.m. And lo and behold, the elusive aardwolf put in an appearance! He came out of his hiding place when fodder was presented and greedily gobbled it up.
“But, waitamoment!” you say. “What’s this to do with Theropod Thursday?”
Well, here goes:
A hooded crow (Corvus cornix) is paying a visit. And not a polite one, as we will quickly see.
Aardwolves feed mostly on termites, so the Tierpark feeds them a pretty yucky looking protein-rich slurry. And believe me, crows love anything protein-rich. And crows being crovids, some of the most inventive birds, they come up with ways to make you, me, and aardwolves involuntarily share that yummy protein cocktail.
Hm, ain’t nothing happening. Well, let’s do this again.
Now, corvids have a pathological obsession with tail pulling. They just can’t help themselves! See here. If it’s got a tail, that tail’s gotta be pulled!
Still no effect? Here we go again!
Oh wow, finally there’s a reaction!
and so, finally, the poor crow that risked life and wing got the deserved go at the trough!
To be honest, I don’t believe the aardwolf minded the tail pulling very much. He simply had had his fill, and thus would have wandered off anyways.
To end this on a more theropodish than mammalian way, here’s a Hooded crow proudly strutting around.