Keepers at Roger Williams Park Zoo were overjoyed April 5 when they checked in on their resident female Giant Anteater, Corndog, and discovered she had given birth to a healthy baby. Veterinary staff had been tracking the baby's development with weekly ultrasound exams and this delivery was right on schedule with their predictions.
The first six months of life can be very challenging for baby Anteaters, so animal care staff are watching the pup's progress closely. However, so far all is well with the long-nosed youngster, who weighed 2.75 lbs five days after birth. In these photos, Zoo staff provided the baby with a stuffed animal to cling to for comfort during a medical exam.
Starting next week, Corndog will be allowed to venture outside with her baby for fresh air whenever she likes. Visitors will likely be able to see the baby clinging to the fur on mom's back, where the pup will remain for most of its first year of life.
Corndog was born in January 2006 at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo in California, and came to Roger Williams Park Zoo last year from the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, Indiana. The father, Johei, was born in 2006 at the San Diego Zoo and was the first resident in the Zoo’s Giant Anteater exhibit which was completed in 2007.
Corndog was selected to come to Roger Williams Park Zoo to be bred with Johei based on recommendations made by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Giant Anteaters, native to grassland and lowland tropical forests in Central and South America, are listed as “vulnerable” by the IUCN due to loss of habitat and hunting. It is estimated that only 5,000 animals remain in the wild. Giant Anteaters have a sense of smell that is 40 times as powerful as a human’s to help them locate ant colonies. They use their 4 inch long claws to rip open termite mounds and their 2 foot long tongues move up to 150 times per minute as they each consume up to 35,000 termites and ants per day.