Look who's new at Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna! This baby giant anteater, named “Hombrecito” by his keepers, made his appearance into the world on November 27, after a gestation period of 190 days. As is typical for anteaters, the newborn climbed straight onto his mother Emilia’s back, looking just like a miniature version of her. His fur pattern is a perfect camouflage when he sits on her back. Right now he's not too heavy -- Hombrecito weighs barely three pounds (1.4 kg) and measures just 14 inches (35cm) from his nose to the tip of his tail.
“During the first period, the little one rides piggy-back. When his mother sleeps – and anteaters do sleep a lot – the little one snoozes well covered by her bushy tail. He also suckles in this position”, explains the Zoo’s director, Dagmar Schratter. “The mother suckles her young for around six months. But it does not take him long to discover his parents mash which he licks up with the long tongue typical for this species” says Schratter. One day he'll be wolfing down up to five thousand insects - or grubs - per minute!
The father, Silva, moved to Vienna from Colchester Zoo only a year ago.
Photo Credits: Schönbrunn Zoo
Giant Anteaters are among the endangered species in Central and South America and Schönbrunn Zoo takes part in the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP). In Zoos a birth of this breed of animal is by no means an everyday occurrence. The female anteater Ilse, who lives in Schönbrunn together with Emilia and Silva, gave birth to twins in 2000 – an absolute rarity. It was worldwide the first time that twins were successfully reared by their mother.