River Safari welcomed its fourth Giant Anteater on July 17, bringing the park’s current collection of the threatened species to four. As Iapura is an experienced mother having given birth to her previous pup, Leona, on March 3, 2018, she required no assistance from her keepers when birthing this newborn. Giant Anteaters can have a single offspring, once a year, after a gestation period of about 6 months.
Weighing only 1.6kg at birth, the yet-to-be-named new pup possesses surprising strength for its small stature, climbing and clinging onto her mother’s back with ease. The newborn spends much of her time on her mother’s back. In this position, it can be difficult to spot the pup, as its coat of hair is almost identical to an adult’s, allowing her to blend in with her mother. This trick comes in handy for anteaters in the wild as it protects the pup from predators and makes the mother appear larger, making for less tempting prey.
Currently on her mother’s milk, the pup will gradually be weaned and introduced to solid food—a mixture of insectivore pellets and ant eggs—when she is about five months old.
Members of the public can vote for their preferred name of the pup by commenting on the video on Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s Facebook page from August 21 through 28. The pup’s keepers have shortlisted two names for public voting: “Amazon”, after the giant anteater’s natural habitat in the Amazon rainforest or “Estrella”, meaning ‘star’ in Spanish, the language most often spoken in her native range of South America.
Iapura and her pup will be introduced to the Giant Anteater exhibit along River Safari’s Amazon River Quest boat ride when the latter turns four months old. In the meantime, guests can either spot father, Zapata, or daughter, Leona, by their distinct narrow head, bushy tail and long snout.
The Giant Anteater is the largest species of anteater out of four and is listed as “Vulnerable” on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, due to habitat loss, road-kill, and hunting.
The animals cared for by WRS are part of the international conservation-breeding program (EEP) managed by the European Association of Zoo and Aquaria (EAZA).