Tamandua

Baby Tamandua Rides On Big Brother's Back

Baby Paco on Poco's back at ZSL London Zoo's Rainforest Life (c) ZSL 06

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.  

Paco on Poco's back  with mum Ria at ZSL London Zoo. 06.11.18
Paco on Poco's back  with mum Ria at ZSL London Zoo. 06.11.18Photo 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.

See more photos of Paco and Poco below.

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Just Tobi and Ria…and Baby Makes Three!

1_Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo 3

‘Tobi the Tamandua’ took-up residence at ZSL London Zoo, last October, as a potential companion for female, Ria. Zookeepers hoped to someday hear the pitter patter of tiny Tamandua toes. So, the Zoo was overjoyed when just five months later they spotted a tiny baby clinging to Ria’s back. When keepers did the math, they discovered that Ria must have fallen pregnant the same week of meeting her new mate, making newcomer Tobi a very fast mover!

ZSL keeper, Steve Goodwin, said, “Ria went into her nest box that morning, which isn’t unusual, as Tamanduas are nocturnal animals and often nap during the day. But at around 5pm, as the sun began to set, she amazed us all when she came outside for her evening explorations with a tiny newborn holding onto her fur.”

“We were confidant Ria was pregnant, as she’d just started to put on some weight, but we weren’t expecting to welcome a new member of the family quite so soon. They must have got together pretty much on their very first date – Tobi clearly pulled out all the stops!”

2_Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo 4

3_Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo 1

4_Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo 2Photo Credits: ZSL (Zoological Society of London)

The new baby, nicknamed ‘Poco’ by keepers, has remained close to Ria since the Easter Monday birth. Mum is sometimes seen tucking the youngster safely away in a hollow log.

Now, the two-month-old has started to tentatively venture away from mum to explore its “Rainforest Life” home, which the Zoo’s Tamanduas share with Two-toed Sloths (Marilyn, Leander and baby Lento), Emperor Tamarins, Red Titi Monkeys and Fruit Bats.

Steve added, “We set up a camera to keep a close eye on the pair, as they’re most active at night: we’ve been delighted to see the youngster peeking its head out of the tree stump at after dark, and now Ria is confident enough to carry her around the exhibit visitors will be able to spot the pair - especially at our Zoo Nights events this summer.”

The little one has also been spotted practicing sticking out its long tongue, which will grow up to 40cm in length and is used to extract tasty insects from inside branches and holes.

The Tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla) is a nocturnal mammal. It is part of the anteater family and native to South America. They are also impressive climbers - holding on to mum enables the infant to build up the valuable muscles needed to climb easily through the treetop branches of London’s only living rainforest.

Juvenile Tamanduas spend the first three months clinging to their mother’s backs, sliding down to feed before pulling themselves back up to nestle into mum’s fur. They have fantastic camouflage as their distinguishable matching patterns align to create one continuous stripe, allowing the young pup to avoid the eyes of predators.

Keepers won’t know the youngster’s sex until it is scanned by vets, as the baby will remain close to mum until around 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 programme for Tamanduas.

The youngster’s public debut is just in time for the ZSL London’s Zoo Nights event. Every Friday, throughout June, visitors will be able to explore the Zoo after-hours, seeing its 19,000 animals in a completely different light.

See the Zoo come alive after dark at Zoo Nights. To book tickets or find out more, visit: www.zsl.org/ZSLZooNights

5_Tamandua baby night cam first image (c) ZSL London Zoo


Sweet New Tamandua Born at Staten Island Zoo

1_NJ Tamandua 3

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.

2_NJ Tamandua 2

3_NJ Tamandua 4

4_NJ Tamandua 1Photo 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.