A baby Southern Tamandua born March 22 at the Nashville Zoo will help to bolster the zoo-dwelling population of this unique species.
The baby, a female, is the first birth for mother Ke$ha. Because it was Ke$ha’s first pregnancy, keepers monitored her baby’s growth with regular ultrasounds. She was also pampered with extra attention and a special diet.
Photo Credit: Heather Robertson/Nashville Zoo
The tiny Tamandua, which weighed less than half a pound at birth, is the ninth born at the Nashville Zoo. Her birth is significant because the reproductive rate for this species is low in zoos. Only 45 Southern Tamanduas live in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums in North America.
The Nashville Zoo is writing the animal care manual for Southern Tamanduas, which will be used as a reference by AZA zoos across North America.
Southern Tamanduas are native to South America, where they feed on ants, termites, and bees. Insect nests are ripped open with powerful front claws, and Tamanduas suck up insects with their 16-inch-long tongue.
Though these animals are found over a wide area, they are not common. Southern Tamanduas are currently listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.