Between the Ears

A Is for Aardvark

A Is for Aardvark



The aardvark, a large, nocturnal, burrowing mammal from central and southern Africa, has little in common with these climes. And yet, on flicking to the front of any Yellow Pages, you’ll be presented with an entire aarmory (sorry) of businesses named after this titanic-tongued creature.

It’s top of the list for any would-be customers searching for, well, just about anything: Aardvark Travel, Aardvark Archery, Aardvark Pub. There’s even an Aardvark Mobile Disco (apparently they do a cracking remix of Gangnam Style).

Oral historian Alan Dein tracks down these business owners to discover why they believe aligning themselves with this bizarre animal — with its stocky body, elongated head and over-sized ears — is advantageous. The results are surprising.


The first name in the average trade directory for more than a century has been Aardvark, and it's also the first word in the dictionary after A. Alan Dein talks to businesses that have chosen to be named after the animal, explores the rewards of coming first and ponders the creature itself.