Sometime during the early morning hours of December 8th, Laura, a 7 year old female giant anteater whose birthday happens to fall on the same day, gave birth to what is believed to be a male baby. Unfortunately, this happened to be one of the coldest nights of the year in Miami and the newborn was found abandoned in the corner of its holding area, weak and cold. Upon discovery, it was immediately transported to the zoo hospital where the animal health team placed it into intensive care.
Though there was significant doubt that the newborn would survive, it slowly started to become more responsive after being heated up and receiving fluids. Zoo keepers were able to collect natural milk from the mom which was supplemented with a formula substitute and was initially administered directly into the infant’s stomach through a tube that was carefully inserted through the mouth.
Once the baby regained some strength over the first 48 hours, an attempt was made to reintroduce it to its mother. Though the mother initially allowed the baby to be placed on her back, she soon became intolerant of it and her behavior indicated that she was not going to care for it and that it would need to be returned to the hospital for hand-rearing.
Photos and video: Ron Magill
After being initially tube fed, the animal has become stronger and more active. It is now regularly accepting a bottle and drinking on its own. The staff continues work around the clock to feed the infant every 3 hours. At the time of this writing, it continues to gain strength and its distinct black and white coat is beginning to grow in. Zoo veterinarians are cautiously optimistic that the baby has overcome the most serious challenges of its first few days and are hoping that the improvements continue though there are still obstacles ahead as there would be for any infant in this situation.
Giant anteaters are the largest of the four species of anteaters and can reach a length of 6-8 feet. They are found in Central and South America and are listed as vulnerable with their greatest threat being habitat loss. Commonly called an “ant bear,” they have a 2 foot long tongue that can lick up 150 ants and termites per minute. Though they have no teeth, they have powerful front claws which can be used to fend off many threats, including jaguars.
‘A’ is for aardvark, anteater and armadillo - Keepers at Longleat are celebrating the births of their very own animal ‘A’ team.
Among the new arrivals is a baby aardvark, the first to have been born at the Wiltshire safari park.
Weighing a little more than a kilogramme at birth, the bizarre-looking calf is born without hair, has drooping ears and wrinkled skin.
Over time it develops hair, the long ears become upright and the wrinkles slowly disappear.
“This is our first ever aardvark birth so we are paying particularly close attention to how the calf is growing and checking its weight daily,” said Team Manager Catriona Carr.
“Aardvark calves can be fragile in their first stages of life, and parents can sometimes be a bit clumsy so we are closely monitoring mother and baby and helping with feeding sessions until the calf has got stronger and can look after itself,” she added.
Originally from Sub-Saharan Africa, aardvarks are renowned for their tunnelling abilities and are capable of digging through a metre of soil in under 30 seconds.
The two-metre-long mammals have specially-adapted spade-like claws on their front legs which allow them to dig out up to 50,000 bugs in a single evening.
They also have tongues measuring in excess of 30cms and nostrils, which they can completely close to prevent dirt getting into their noses.
The other members of the ‘A’ Team are a baby giant anteater and a pair of six-banded armadillos.
Giant anteaters originate from Central and South America and can be found in tropical and deciduous forests.
As its name suggests the giant anteater is the largest of the anteater family and can grow to over two metres in length with tongues that extend to more than 60cm.
The new arrival is the latest success story for Longleat captive breeding programme for the species, which is officially listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
As for armadillos, the name comes from the Spanish for ‘little armoured one’ and refers to the hard, protective bands which cover their bodies and protects them from predators. This protective layer is actually made from keratin, the same material which is in our hair and nails.
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.
Photo Credits: Wildlife Reserves Singapore
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).
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.
Photo Credit: ZSL London Zoo
“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.
For the second time in the facility’s history, a Giant Anteater has been born at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. Arriving on the evening of July 30, the little male is now nine pounds and was born after a 175-day gestation period.
Proud parents are second time dad, EO, and third time mom, Pana. The pair was brought to Connecticut’s only Zoo with the hopes of successful breeding, which occurred for the first time in 2016. Mother and baby are currently in seclusion most of the day, with brief forays into the outdoor habitat for fresh air and sunshine.
Photo Credits: Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo
“Our fingers were crossed that our Giant Anteaters would repeat having another youngster, and we couldn’t be happier that the breeding was successful a second time,” explained Gregg Dancho, Zoo Director. “We encourage everyone to follow the baby’s growth and progress on our Facebook and Instagram pages until the baby is a bit larger.”
Mochilla, the pair’s first offspring, is now in residence at Alexandria Zoo in Louisiana.
The Staten Island Zoo recently announced the birth of its fourth baby Southern Tamandua.
Named “NJ” by keepers, the female was born on January 2 to mom, DJ, and dad, EJ. She weighed in at a mere 402 grams (about the same weight as a football). NJ is the fourth birth for the breeding Tamandua pair. Mom and baby will be off exhibit for bonding and to ensure the new little girl is growing big and strong.
To date, NJ weighs 1100 grams (about the weight of a large college textbook). She is currently drinking milk produced by mom but will soon move on to bugs that she will “slurp up” with her 16-inch long tongue.
Photo Credits: Staten Island Zoo
The Southern Tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla) is often called a ‘Lesser Anteater’ because it is much smaller than its relative, the Giant Anteater. This interesting animal is at home both in trees and on the ground in the rainforests of South America. In the wild, the Tamandua is most active at night, often nesting during the day in hollow tree trunks. It has small eyes and poor vision but can hear and smell quite well. They also have sharp claws and powerful forearms.
According to Kenneth C. Mitchell, the Zoo’s executive director, “Tamandua births are rare in zoos, as the species requires specialized care and has specific nutritional needs. We have had substantial success here, participating in the Species Survival Program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. In fact, MJ, one of the males produced by our couple, fathered a baby Tamandua last year at the Dallas Zoo.”
Gestation for the Southern Tamandua ranges from 130 to 190 days, with usually one young born. At birth, a young Anteater does not resemble the parents; its coat varies from white to black. The baby will ride on the mother's back, sometimes being deposited on a safe branch while the mother forages.
The Southern Tamandua is currently classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN. However, there are threats their existence in the wild. Hunters, who claim the creatures kill domestic dogs, often kill them. They are also killed for the thick tendons in their tails, from which rope is made.
Nashville Zoo recently announced the birth of a Giant Anteater pup on December 25, 2017.
A carnivore keeper and a docent walked into the Zoo’s Giant Anteater barn and were greeted with an adorable Christmas morning surprise.
“They were elated to discover that the female Anteater, Consuela, had delivered a special Christmas gift,” said Shawna Farrington, carnivore area supervisor. “Curled under Consuela's hair and clinging tightly, was a new baby female Anteater.”
The docent, Kerry Foth, has been volunteering with the Nashville Zoo in various departments since 2003, suggested the name “Noel” for the newest addition. Noel will stay with her mother for at least two years, until she is fully grown.
The Zoo shared that this is nine-year-old Consuela’s third pup, and it is the fourth offspring for 14-year-old father, Carib. This is also Consuela’s second female pup, and both mom and baby are reportedly doing well.
Since 2001, 18 Giant Anteaters have been born at Nashville Zoo’s off-exhibit breeding facility. These reproductive successes have been enhanced by research projects done at the Zoo that focus on the biology of Anteaters and their reproductive system.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Giant Anteater as “Vulnerable”, although it is considered extinct in areas of Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Uruguay. Giant Anteaters are disappearing because of habitat destruction, hunting and road kills. Only about 5,000 Anteaters remain in the wild.
Nashville Zoo is paired with the conservation organization “The Giant Armadillo Project” and is recognized as a leader in caring for both Giant Anteaters and Tamanduas. The Zoo’s animal care and veterinary staff are currently working on an Anteater care manual, in conjunction with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Program, that will provide husbandry guidelines and veterinary issues associated with these species.
The Santa Barbara Zoo’s Giant Anteater, Anara, recently gave birth to a rare set of twins! The female pups were born overnight and discovered by keepers on Monday, November 21.
Twins are unusual in this species, and the likelihood for survival of both pups, if left with the mother, is extremely low.
“We monitored the newborn pups and allowed them both to stay with their mother for as long as possible,” says Dr. Julie Barnes, Director of Animal Care and Health. “We had several plans to implement, depending on how they progressed. Although Anara did an amazing job in the first few days, we were starting to see a significant weight discrepancy between the pups. That indicated it was time to start hand-rearing the smaller pup in order to increase the chances of survival of both pups.”
Photo Credits: Santa Barbara Zoo
Giant Anteater babies grow fast, and providing enough milk for more than one infant is difficult. In addition, the mother carries the baby on her back until they are nearly her size. Therefore, carrying both twins would prove impossible for the mother after just a few weeks. Anara herself is a twin and was hand- raised at the Fresno Zoo.
Keepers identify the larger pup by two black stripes on her back, while the smallest of the pair has only one stripe. Currently, the smaller pup is in an incubator at the Animal Hospital and is being fed every three hours, around the clock. She will not be on view to the public for several months.
Anara and the larger pup she is caring for are expected to go out on exhibit within the next two weeks, and the pup will be seen clinging to her mother’s back.
“Anara is doing well and is a great mother,” adds Dr. Barnes. “We are delighted that both pups are female, as her previous two surviving pups were male. We need more females in order to ensure we have a genetically healthy population for his species in North America. Her mate Ridley, who came from Germany, has valuable genes that are not well represented so far. Those genes go with his offspring and help diversity the genes of Giant Anteaters in human care in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.”
Although the birth of twins is rare for Anteaters, it is not so much the case for Anara, as this is her second set of twins out of three pregnancies with Ridley. The pair’s first offspring were twins, a male and female, born in March 2014, but the female newborn did not survive. The male pup was hand-reared and is now at the Tennessee Zoo. Nine months later, another male pup was born and successfully raised by Anara. He now resides at the Birmingham Zoo.
Since 1975, a total of 29 Giant Anteaters have now been born at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Prior to Anara and Ridley’s first litter in 2014, the last time a Giant Anteater was born there was in 2006.
The Zoo was a leader in an early nationwide study of Giant Anteaters, thanks in great part to a special female named ‘Grandma’. The average lifespan for this species is between 20 and 23 years of age, and Grandma lived to be 31 years old. During her life she produced fifteen offspring. She was the oldest Giant Anteater in captivity when she died in 2002.
The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) was once found from northern Argentina to southern Belize, in savannas, grasslands, swampy areas, and humid forests. They have since disappeared from Belize, Guatemala, and probably Costa Rica. In South America, they are also gone from Uruguay and portions of Brazil.
The Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates population loss of at least 30% over the past 10 years, and classifies the species as “Vulnerable.”
Giant Anteaters have a body length of 3 to 4 feet with a tail that is an additional 2 to 3 feet, and weigh 40 to 85 pounds, though some captive Anteaters have weighed more than 100 pounds.
This species uses powerful claws to rip apart termite and ant mounds, and an 18 to 24 inch tongue to eat termites, ants, and grubs. In the wild, they may consume as many as 35,000 ants in a single day. At the Santa Barbara Zoo, they eat a specially formulated insectivore diet, plus avocados, bananas, crickets, and worms. The avocados must be ripe because anteaters do not have teeth; they break open the skin with their long sharp claws.
Anteaters in the wild are solitary, except for females with young, and spend most of their days with their noses to the ground searching for food using exceptional senses of smell and hearing. Their sense of smell is 40 times more powerful than a human’s.
Giant Anteaters typically spend their first months of life clinging to their mother’s backs, where their black and gray stripes line up with those of the mother.
The new Giant Anteaters twins, like many of the animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo, can be named by making a donation to the Zoo. By donating for a chance to name the pups, sponsors also support the AZA Giant Anteater cooperative breeding program, with the goal of increased genetic diversity in North American zoos.
The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), also known as the ‘ant bear’, is a large insectivorous mammal native to Central and South America. It is classified with Sloths in the order Pilosa.
The species is mostly terrestrial and is the largest of its family. It is especially recognizable by its elongated snout, bushy tail, and long fore claws. Adults can grow to a total length of around 7 feet and a maximum weight of around 90 pounds.
The Giant Anteater can be found in grasslands and rainforests. It forages in open areas and rests in more forested habitats. It feeds primarily on ants and termites, using its fore claws to dig them up and its long, sticky tongue to collect them.
They are mostly solitary, except during mother-offspring relationships. Giant anteaters can mate throughout the year. Gestation lasts around 190 days and ends with the birth of a single pup, which typically weighs around 1.4 kg (3.1 lb). Females give birth standing upright.
Pups are born with eyes closed and begin to open them after six days. The mother carries its pup on its back for the first few months. The pup's black and white band aligns with its mother's, camouflaging it. The young communicate with their mothers with sharp whistles and use their tongues during nursing. After three months, the pup begins to eat solid food and is fully weaned by ten months. The mother grooms her offspring during rest periods lasting up to an hour. Grooming peaks during the first three months and declines as the young reaches nine months of age. Young Anteaters usually become independent by nine or ten months.
The Giant Anteater is currently listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It has been extirpated from many parts of its former range, including nearly all of Central America. Threats to its survival include: habitat destruction, fire, and poaching for fur and bush meat.
A female Giant Anteater was born on December 28, at ZSL London Zoo, weighing just 1.2kg.
Keepers soon realized first-time mum Inca was unable to care for her infant and that the pup would need a helping hand. Staff recruited a special teddy bear to help take on the role of surrogate mum to the tiny new arrival.
Young Anteaters get around by clinging to their mother’s backs, so the newborn has been keeping a firm grip on zookeeper Amy Heath’s shoulder, before going to sleep cuddling her giant teddy bear.
Nicknamed “Beanie” by her keepers, the young grey and black colored female already has impressive curved claws, which will grow up to four inches in length and will eventually be used to dig around in the ground to find tasty ants and termites.
Zookeeper Amy Heath said, “ZSL London Zoo is home to a group of Giant Anteaters: male Bonito and his female mates, Inca and Sauna. We were delighted when we discovered Inca was pregnant; but unfortunately she rejected the infant so we’ve stepped in to help until the baby is big enough to go back in with her parents.
“Hand-rearing an animal is an amazing privilege, but it’s hard work too; we’ve been bottle-feeding Beanie every two to three hours with special replacement milk and making sure she’s kept warm at night with a temperature-controlled incubator.
“Giant Anteaters are an incredible species. They’re unique to look at, and their iconic snouts are perfectly designed to sniff out their food. While they’ve got no teeth, their claws are the perfect tools for digging an opening into ants’ nests, and Beanie has been practicing her digging skills on her teddy bear…or even sometimes my shoulder!
“We’re very pleased with how well Beanie is developing. At 1.6kg, she’s gained about half a kilo in a month, and is the ideal weight for her age. She’s a very strong youngster with a sweet personality; she loves to burrow her long snout into my neck for a cuddle!”
Photo Credits: ZSL London Zoo
Although Beanie may be small now, eventually she’ll grow to be around 7ft in length and weigh as much as 45kg. In the meantime, Amy has been keeping detailed records on everything the infant does, from eating and sleeping to even her toilet habits.
Though she’ll continue to be hand-fed until she’s around six-months-old, the stripy baby will soon be introduced to the rest of the Giant Anteater family at ZSL London Zoo, where keepers hope that more experienced female, Sauna, will take over other mothering duties, such as carrying Beanie around and socializing her, so she can grow up part of the group.
The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), also known as the Ant Bear, is a large insectivorous mammal native to Central and South America. The mostly terrestrial species is one of four living species of anteaters and is classified with sloths in the order Pilosa.
The Giant Anteater is classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Threats include habitat destruction, fire, and poaching for fur and bush meat. However, some anteaters inhabit protected areas.
To find out more about Beanie and the 18,000 other incredible residents at ZSL London Zoo visit: www.zsl.org