Baby Anteater

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Second Giant Anteater Born in One Year at Santa Barbara Zoo

bb_anteater_1Santa Barbara, CA, November 11, 2014 – A second male pup within one year has been born to a pair of giant anteaters at the Santa Barbara Zoo. The latest pup, born on Thursday, November 6, is being reared by its mother in a holding area, and will not be on view to the public for at least two weeks. The older pup, born in March, is on view at the Zoo until next week, when he leaves for Staten Island Zoo as part of a cooperative breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

The pup born in March was the first giant anteater born at the Zoo since 2006, and the first offspring for adult pair Anara and Ridley. He was one of a pair of twins, but the female newborn pup did not survive. Twins in anteaters are rare, though Anara (aged 2) is a twin and was also hand-raised, at the Fresno Zoo. The sire Ridley, is 6 years old and was imported from Germany’s Zoo Dortmund in 2008 by the AZA, “While we were delighted with the success of our hand-reared offspring from Spring 2014, we are even more excited that Anara is figuring out how to be a good Mom on her own this time,” said Sheri Horiszny, Director of Animal Care. “We imported Dad, Ridley, from Germany four years ago to add to the genetics of the North American population, and we are pleased that we are now beginning to make that contribution.”

Name the Pup

The giant anteater pup, like many of the animals at the Zoo, can be named by making a donation to the Santa Barbara Zoo. By naming the pup, sponsors also support the AZA giant anteater cooperative breeding program, and the goal of increased genetic diversity in North American zoos. For more information, contact the Zoo’s Development Department for details at (805) 962-5339 or You can also become a Foster Feeder of the anteaters.

Giant Anteaters at the Santa Barbara Zoo

A total of 27 giant anteaters have now been born at the Santa Barbara Zoo since 1975. The Zoo has been a leader in a nationwide study of giant anteaters, thanks in great part to Grandma, who had more than 15 ofbb_anteater_2fspring. The average lifespan in this species is between 20 and 23 years of age, and Grandma lived to be 31 years old. She was the oldest giant anteater in captivity when she died in 2002.

About Giant Anteaters

Giant anteaters were 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 lists 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. They have no teeth, but use an 18 to 24 inch tongue to eat termites, ants, and grubs. In the wild, giant anteaters may consume as many as 35,000 ants in a single day. At the 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.