Two babies in one year might be a handful for most mothers. But ZSL London Zoo’s Tamandua Ria has plenty of help with her latest offspring, because her firstborn Poco literally shares the load.
Since the new pup’s birth in October, proud big brother Poco, who was born in April, has been carrying his new sibling around their indoor rainforest home. In honor of the brotherly love shared by the siblings, keepers have named the new baby Paco.
“Ria must have fallen pregnant just weeks after giving birth to Poco,” says ZSL keeper Steve Goodwin, who discovered Poco bonding with the new baby immediately after the birth.
“We suspected Ria was pregnant again, so we were keeping a close eye on her,” explains Goodwin. “When I peered into their nestbox that morning I saw the whole family nestled together, with the newborn already snuggling into the soft fur on Poco’s back – he’s clearly taken his big brother duties very seriously, as they’ve been inseparable ever since.”
The heartwarming relationship between the Tamandua twosome is one that keepers are closely monitoring, so that information about the unusual bond can be shared with other zoos around the world.
“Not a lot is known about Tamandua group dynamics in the wild, as the species are nocturnal and spend most of their lives high up in the tree canopy of their rainforest homes,” Goodwin says. “Tamanduas are usually seen as solitary animals, with the females carrying their offspring on their backs for the first three months of their life, so Poco’s close relationship with one-month-old Paco is definitely something we can all learn from.”
While Ria has had a little help with her newborn, she remains a devoted mother to both of her youngsters. “If Paco ever begins to cry on Poco’s back, she doesn’t just take the little one off him to soothe them: she carries them both until he settles down, which means Paco is on Poco, who is on mum. The tower of Tamanduas is quite a sight!” says Goodwin.
Part of the Anteater family, Tamanduas are native to South America and are impressive climbers. They collect ants and termites using their long, sticky tongue.
Keepers won’t know the youngster’s sex until it is examined by the veterinarian, and this won’t happen until Paco is about 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 program for Tamanduas.
See more photos of Paco and Poco below.