Marwell Wildlife in the UK is celebrating its first successful Giant Anteater birth and you can help name the pup! The youngster was born to first-time mom Chiquita early November and weighs just three pounds. Check in here with the zoo's FaceBook page over the next few days for an opportunity to vote on your favorite name, and maybe win a family ticket to the zoo.
Giant Anteaters are native to South America and are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. Females normally give birth to one baby after a gestation period of 190 days. Anteater pups cling to their mother's back or legs while they are young, and sometimes continue to do so for up to a year. The pup, still nursing for now, will begin to start eating solids at around three months old.
Mother and baby are currently spending a lot of their time indoors and are enjoying the heaters in their den during the cold weather. They are difficult for visitors to see at the moment. However, animal teams are keeping an eye on the pair, and the two will move to a more visible position in a couple of weeks.
Shelly Parkes, collection manager at Marwell Zoo said, “We are so proud to see Chiquita carrying the baby as it hitches a ride across her back and demonstrating maternal instincts, as it’s her first pup. She seems content and we can hear the pup feeding and occasionally whistling as it talks to mum.”
Chiquita, who is two years old, arrived at the zoo nine months ago from Warsaw. When she met the zoo's resident male Ernesto, the pair clicked.
Ernesto, who is nine years old, had previously been unlucky in love. Ernesto’s first mate was described to Marwell as a female but when the new mate arrived the pair didn’t mix well. On closer inspection Marwell Zoo staff realized they had been sent a male Anteater instead of a female! This is an easy mistake to make as an Anteater’s gender is notoriously difficult to determine.
The new baby will be given a health check once Chiquita is settled and the sex of the pup will be determined when it is older.