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Belfast Zoo Unveils a New ‘Giant’

1_(1)  BIG news at Belfast Zoo with ‘GIANT’ arrival!

Belfast Zoo welcomed a baby Giant Anteater on December 22, 2015! This endangered South American mammal was born to parents, Pancho and Kara, and the Zoo is asking for your help to name the special arrival.

Pancho arrived in Belfast from Duisburg Zoo (Germany), in 2012, and was joined by Kara from Olomouc Zoo, in February 2015, as part of the European breeding programme. There are only 200 Giant Anteaters living in zoos around the world and Pancho and Kara are the only breeding pair in Ireland!

Zoo curator, Alyn Cairns, said, “We are all delighted to welcome a new member to the zoo family. Kara is a fantastic mum and for the first six months she will carry the pup on her back nearly all the time. While this is great camouflage from predators, it also makes it extremely difficult for the keepers to get a good look at the infant to find out whether it is male or female and we don’t want to disrupt the pair at this stage. Even though we don’t know what sex the pup is, the team have come up with some names and we would love your help to pick one!"

You can help to name the Zoo’s latest arrival by voting for one of the names pre-selected by Keepers. Place your vote at: http://woobox.com/vrr9jp.

2_(5)  Kara is a fantastic mum and for the first six months she will carry the pup on her back nearly all the time.

3_(2)  Belfast Zoo welcomed a baby giant anteater on 22 December 2016!

4_(3)  You can help name the zoo's latest arrival.  Visit www.belfastzoo.co.uk for more information.Photo Credits: Belfast Zoo

As the name suggests, the Giant Anteater is the world’s biggest anteater species and can grow up to seven feet in length.   In Central and South America, they live in the grasslands and rainforests. While this species was once widespread, today their numbers vary drastically between countries. They are considered one of the most threatened mammals in Central America. In fact, in Brazil, there are serious concerns because, in some areas where they once roamed, there are now none left.

Zoo curator, Alyn Cairns, continued, “Giant Anteater populations have declined by 30% between 2000 and 2010, showing how vulnerable the species is. Our latest arrival is not only cause for celebration for Belfast Zoo and the breeding programme but also for Giant Anteater conservation as a whole. Giant Anteaters are unquestionably one of the most unusual looking species. They have a long snout, long hair, a large bushy tail and a long tongue, which is approximately 50 centimeters in length! They use their tongue to mop up insects and can eat up to 30,000 insects in a single day! We have no doubt that the newest arrival is going to be a popular addition with both staff and visitors.”

The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) is also known as the Ant Bear. It is one of four living species of anteaters and is classified with sloths in the order Pilosa. They are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

You can support the care of Belfast Zoo’s Giant Anteaters by taking part in the animal adoption scheme. Find out more about the animal adoption scheme at www.belfastzoo.co.uk/adoption, email adoption@belfastzoo.co.uk or call 028 9077 6277 extension 229.

5_(6) The anteater's tongue is approximately 50 centimetres in length!  They use the tongue to mop up insects and can eat up to 30,000 insects in a single day!

6_(4)  This endangered South American mammal was born to parents, Pancho and Kara (adult pictured).

7_(7)  There are only 200 giant anteaters living in zoos around the world, as part of the breeding programme, and Pancho and Kara are the only breeding pair in Ireland!

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