On November 12, Potawatomi Zoo staff discovered their female Giant Anteater had given birth. The new male pup was born to parents Corndog and Jo Hei and has been nicknamed “Pickle”.
The healthy pup weighed in at just over 3lbs at birth, and at his latest veterinary check, on December 28, 2016, weighed over 12lbs. Pickle has been observed nursing, riding on mom, and most recently, being encouraged by mom to stand and play.
Pickle will spend most of his time for the next year, clinging to mom. Keepers report that it would not be unheard of for the youngster to be half as big as mom and still be catching a ride at his first birthday!
Pickle’s mom, Corndog, was born at Fresno Zoo in January 2006, and first arrived at Potawatomi Zoo in June 2007. She left for Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, RI, in June 2011 on a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, where she was introduced to Jo Hei. Together, they produced two offspring: one female in 2012 and one male in 2014.
Still under recommendation from the AZA’s Species Survival Plan, Corndog returned to Potawatomi Zoo in December 2015 and brought her mate Jo Hei along with her.
Jo Hei and Corndog were observed breeding in the Spring of 2016, and subsequent ultrasounds confirmed pregnancy. Corndog successfully received numerous ultrasounds from veterinary staff during her pregnancy, to monitor both the health of mom and baby.
As South American natives, Giant Anteaters prefer warmer weather and mom and baby may not be seen, in the outdoor exhibit at Potawatomi Zoo, until consistently warmer temperatures are reached.
However, the Zoo reports that their adult male anteaters, Jo Hei and Barques, are already acclimated to the cooler local climate, and will be available for outdoor viewing when outdoor temps near 50 degrees.
The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), also known as the ant bear, is a large insectivorous mammal native to Central and South America. They can live between 15 to 20 years in protected conservation facilities.
The species is currently listed as “Vulnerable” to extinction by the IUCN. Shockingly, Giant Anteaters are among the top species killed on the roadways in their native environments in South America, and as a result, their population is listed as decreasing.
The Potawatomi Zoo is a sponsor of the conservation project Anteaters & Highways (www.giantanteater.org) in support of research to address the threats to Giant Anteaters and help save this iconic species in the wild.