We’ve welcomed the arrival of a rare baby giant anteater, who has been adorably clinging to its mum’s back!
The yet-to-be-named youngster is only the third of its kind to be born here in our 92-year history. Hidden cameras in the anteater’s den captured the birth, showing the baby born safely onto the ground before climbing onto mum only a few moments later.
Giant anteaters are truly fascinating animals. Despite their large size when fully grown, they feed mostly on tiny insects and can devour up to 30,000 ants or termites in a day! This diet of little invertebrates means they don’t have any teeth. Instead they use their sticky tongues to feed, which can reach two metres in length and can extend and withdraw at up to 150 times per minute.
Check out the pup getting to grips with its super LOOOOOOOONG tongue!
For the time being, the baby is feeding from mum’s milk, crawling to her underbelly to suckle before climbing back around to rest on her back. The pup will cling to its mum’s back for around 10 months, where its matching stripe on its fur keeps it camouflaged, until it’s ready to walk, explore and find food independently. The pup currently measures in at around 60cm, but when fully grown could reach a whopping 2.1m (7 feet) in length!
“Mum, Bliss, is doing an excellent job of looking after her new arrival and seeing the baby clinging on tightly to her back is a really special sight. With giant anteaters being vulnerable to extinction the birth is incredibly positive news for the species. It’s a boost to the safety net population being cared for in conservation zoos like ours, and allows us to learn more about them while raising more awareness of the majesty of the species.”
David White, Twilight Team Manager
Born to Bliss (13) and Oso (nine), the pup is the result of an international conservation breeding programme working to protect endangered and at-risk species. Giant anteaters are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on the IUCN Red List, with numbers continuing to decline in the wild.
Native to Central and South America, giant anteaters are threatened in both regions, where much of the grassland they depend on to survive has been destroyed, degraded or damaged by fire. In some areas of Brazil, where they once roamed freely, there are now none remaining. Research also points to another major factor in the demise of giant anteaters – road deaths.
Paul Bamford, our Field Conservation Manager for South and Central America, says:
“We’re working with our partners in Brazil, the Wild Animal Conservation Institute (ICAS), to carry out vital research that assesses the impact of road deaths on giant anteaters over thousands of miles of roads. Such high numbers of collisions with motorists have been recorded that it’s now believed to be one of the main threats to the species after habitat loss.
“GPS collars fitted to giant anteaters are giving us an insight on when and how they cross roads so that hotspots can be identified and strategies can be put in place to help reduce the high numbers of anteaters falling victim to collisions. Working together with motorists to understand perceptions and attitudes towards the species is also critical for developing effective protection measures, such as tailored road signs, to minimise collisions and the associated risks to both people and anteaters.”
Latin American Adventure
Meet our giant anteaters and some of our other South and Central Americas species with this fantastic experience for two!
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They don’t stay little for long! A membership means you can visit as many times as you want to see all of our baby animals.
Adopt a giant anteater!
Adopting an animal at Chester Zoo is really rewarding as you will help fund conservation work in the UK and all around the world!