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Chester Zoo's New Baby Anteater Hitches a Ride

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A rare baby Giant Anteater was born at Chester Zoo on December 23. The tiny baby, whose gender is not yet known, is only the second of the species to ever be born at the zoo. The baby will cling to its mother’s back for approximately six months until it is ready to walk, explore and find food on its own. Parents Pedro and Bliss, both aged three, arrived in 2010 as part of an international breeding program.

Team Manager David White said, “Bliss is a very good mum and is so far doing an excellent job of looking after her new arrival. She’s obviously very proud of her newborn and has, every now and again, been parading around and showing off to our visitors. Seeing the youngster clinging tightly to her tail is quite the sight!”

Giant Anteaters are classed as Vulnerable to extinction by conservationists, so the birth is good news for the unusual looking species. Native to Central and South America, the animals do not have teeth but have tongues which can measure up to almost 24 inches (over half a meter) long!

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Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Find Giant Anteater facts just after the fold:

• The Giant Anteater is the world’s largest species of anteater

• An individual may eat up to 30,000 ants in one day

• Its tongue can reach two feet in length, and is covered in a sticky saliva, allowing it to trap ants. It can extend and withdraw it up to 150 times per minute

• Giant Anteaters are predominantly solitary, except for mothers and their offspring. A single offspring is produced after a gestation period of 190 days. They are carried on their mother's back, aligned with the white stripe, so that they are very well camouflaged. Young are weaned after two months, although they may continue to be carried on their mother's back for approximately six months

• The species is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, which monitors endangered animals