The Animal Facts Editorial Team
April 14, 2023 8:30 pm
Chester Zoo, Chester, The United Kingdom
Chester Zoo have caught adorable footage of their giant anteater pup being born thanks to hidden den cameras. The rare animal is just the third to have been born at the UK attraction in its 92 year history.
David White, Team Manager in charge of caring for giant anteaters at the zoo, said: “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, while we’re continuing to learn more about them and, at the same time, create more awareness of the majesty of the species.”
The pup was born to mother Bliss (13) and father Oso (9) on March 12th 2023. They were paired as part of an international program aimed at saving the species through creating a captive assurance population.
“Mum Bliss is so far 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,” added David.
For the next 10 months, the as yet unnamed pup will cling to the back of Bliss as she moves through the habitat. Stripes on the fur which match with its mother will help to camouflage the pup.
“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 take up this position for around 10 months as its matching fur helps keep it camouflaged, while also making mum look bigger and therefore more off-putting to would-be predators,” finished White.
Giant anteaters roam across Central and South America where they are increasingly threatened. Much of their grasslands habitats have been destroyed by fires. Chester Zoo have also supported research which has discovered that road deaths are an increasingly large threat to this species.
Paul Bamford, the zoo’s Field Conservation Manager for South and Central America, said: “Very few long-term studies of giant anteaters have ever been carried out by the global conservation community, meaning it’s challenging to implement effective conservation actions for these unique-looking animals. It’s not easy to protect a species without an in-depth understanding of what’s happening to them.
“However, we’re working with our partners in Brazil, the Wild Animal Conservation Institute (ICAS), to carry out vital research to redress this – by assessing 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. Camera trap imagery is also helping to provide us with accurate data on population sizes living close to roads.
Despite their giant size, the giant anteater feeds almost exclusively on ants and termites requiring as many as 30,000 each day to survive. More in our fact file.
The tongue of the giant anteater is the longest, in relation to body size of any mammal. It can extend from their mouth up to 150 times per minute. This is sticky and is used each day to grab the thousands of ants and termites on which they feed.
Image: © Chester Zoo
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