Tamandua

Just Tobi and Ria…and Baby Makes Three!

1_Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo 3

‘Tobi the Tamandua’ took-up residence at ZSL London Zoo, last October, as a potential companion for female, Ria. Zookeepers hoped to someday hear the pitter patter of tiny Tamandua toes. So, the Zoo was overjoyed when just five months later they spotted a tiny baby clinging to Ria’s back. When keepers did the math, they discovered that Ria must have fallen pregnant the same week of meeting her new mate, making newcomer Tobi a very fast mover!

ZSL keeper, Steve Goodwin, said, “Ria went into her nest box that morning, which isn’t unusual, as Tamanduas are nocturnal animals and often nap during the day. But at around 5pm, as the sun began to set, she amazed us all when she came outside for her evening explorations with a tiny newborn holding onto her fur.”

“We were confidant Ria was pregnant, as she’d just started to put on some weight, but we weren’t expecting to welcome a new member of the family quite so soon. They must have got together pretty much on their very first date – Tobi clearly pulled out all the stops!”

2_Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo 4

3_Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo 1

4_Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo 2Photo Credits: ZSL (Zoological Society of London)

The new baby, nicknamed ‘Poco’ by keepers, has remained close to Ria since the Easter Monday birth. Mum is sometimes seen tucking the youngster safely away in a hollow log.

Now, the two-month-old has started to tentatively venture away from mum to explore its “Rainforest Life” home, which the Zoo’s Tamanduas share with Two-toed Sloths (Marilyn, Leander and baby Lento), Emperor Tamarins, Red Titi Monkeys and Fruit Bats.

Steve added, “We set up a camera to keep a close eye on the pair, as they’re most active at night: we’ve been delighted to see the youngster peeking its head out of the tree stump at after dark, and now Ria is confident enough to carry her around the exhibit visitors will be able to spot the pair - especially at our Zoo Nights events this summer.”

The little one has also been spotted practicing sticking out its long tongue, which will grow up to 40cm in length and is used to extract tasty insects from inside branches and holes.

The Tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla) is a nocturnal mammal. It is part of the anteater family and native to South America. They are also impressive climbers - holding on to mum enables the infant to build up the valuable muscles needed to climb easily through the treetop branches of London’s only living rainforest.

Juvenile Tamanduas spend the first three months clinging to their mother’s backs, sliding down to feed before pulling themselves back up to nestle into mum’s fur. They have fantastic camouflage as their distinguishable matching patterns align to create one continuous stripe, allowing the young pup to avoid the eyes of predators.

Keepers won’t know the youngster’s sex until it is scanned by vets, as the baby will remain close to mum until around six-months-old. Boy or girl, the newborn is a valuable addition to its species and once its sex is confirmed, its details will be added to the European Studbook (ESB), part of a coordinated breeding programme for Tamanduas.

The youngster’s public debut is just in time for the ZSL London’s Zoo Nights event. Every Friday, throughout June, visitors will be able to explore the Zoo after-hours, seeing its 19,000 animals in a completely different light.

See the Zoo come alive after dark at Zoo Nights. To book tickets or find out more, visit: www.zsl.org/ZSLZooNights

5_Tamandua baby night cam first image (c) ZSL London Zoo


Sweet New Tamandua Born at Staten Island Zoo

1_NJ Tamandua 3

The Staten Island Zoo recently announced the birth of its fourth baby Southern Tamandua.

Named “NJ” by keepers, the female was born on January 2 to mom, DJ, and dad, EJ. She weighed in at a mere 402 grams (about the same weight as a football). NJ is the fourth birth for the breeding Tamandua pair. Mom and baby will be off exhibit for bonding and to ensure the new little girl is growing big and strong.

To date, NJ weighs 1100 grams (about the weight of a large college textbook). She is currently drinking milk produced by mom but will soon move on to bugs that she will “slurp up” with her 16-inch long tongue.

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3_NJ Tamandua 4

4_NJ Tamandua 1Photo Credits: Staten Island Zoo

The Southern Tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla) is often called a ‘Lesser Anteater’ because it is much smaller than its relative, the Giant Anteater. This interesting animal is at home both in trees and on the ground in the rainforests of South America. In the wild, the Tamandua is most active at night, often nesting during the day in hollow tree trunks. It has small eyes and poor vision but can hear and smell quite well. They also have sharp claws and powerful forearms.

According to Kenneth C. Mitchell, the Zoo’s executive director, “Tamandua births are rare in zoos, as the species requires specialized care and has specific nutritional needs. We have had substantial success here, participating in the Species Survival Program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. In fact, MJ, one of the males produced by our couple, fathered a baby Tamandua last year at the Dallas Zoo.”

Gestation for the Southern Tamandua ranges from 130 to 190 days, with usually one young born. At birth, a young Anteater does not resemble the parents; its coat varies from white to black. The baby will ride on the mother's back, sometimes being deposited on a safe branch while the mother forages.

The Southern Tamandua is currently classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN. However, there are threats their existence in the wild. Hunters, who claim the creatures kill domestic dogs, often kill them. They are also killed for the thick tendons in their tails, from which rope is made.