March 13, 2009
A bouncing baby, giant anteater was born yesterday, March 12, at the National Zoo; only the second giant anteater birth in the Zoo’s history. Mother Maripi (ma-RIP-ee) stepped right up and is instinctively caring for her baby. Zoo staff say she’s very patient as the baby nurses and negotiates techiniques and strategies for climbing aboard mom’s back. We won’t know for a while the baby’s gender or weight.
Dante—who is separated from mother and baby—is not the fathering sort, he plays no part in the rearing of offspring. But he’s been a father before. In the summer of 2007, Maripi and Dante’s first offspring was a female, Aurora, who now resides at the Zoo Parc de Beauval in France.
Giant anteaters live in the grassland savannahs, swamps, humid forests and wetlands throughout most of Latin America—from Belize to Argentina. The animals use their keen sense of smell to detect termite mounds and anthills and tear them open with strong claws. They gather their prey using a two-foot-long tongue covered with very sticky saliva and can eat up to 30,000 ants a day.
The new mother and baby are in seclusion and unavailable for public viewing for obvious reasons. Dante can be seen on exhibit in next to Lemur Island, weather depending. For more photos, visit the Zoo’s Flickr site to see more pictures.
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