April 8, 2011
It’s official: giant anteater Mirapi has chosen a name for her male cub. Everyone give a big Smithsonian welcome to Pablo!
At a naming ceremony yesterday at the National Zoo, three decorated flowerpots contained “enrichment objects,” or rather, delicious foods that anteaters love to eat—a grapefruit, a mango, and a hard-boiled egg. Each pot was set next to a stake bearing one of three names—Demetrio, Pablo and Fausto. At 10:30 a.m. after a small audience of children and families had gathered, Pablo’s mother Maripi emerged from the indoor enclosure with her then unnamed baby anteater riding on her back.
Though Pablo is only five months old, when he lies sprawled across Maripi’s back, his snout is almost as long as his mother’s. As the children coached Maripi to head toward their favorite names, it was clear that mother anteater wasn’t going to make her decision too hastily.
Despite the audience, she took a long walk around the entire perimeter of her yard, sniffing along the way. Curiously, she inspected the three flowerpots. Each was decorated with tiny drawings of ants. Maripe seemed to enjoy the suspense as she walked away from the pots as if deliberating. Finally, she returned to the pot labeled “Pablo.”
And that’s how the baby got its name.
Born on December 7, 2010, the little guy has been waiting for weeks to be named. The process started with five names chosen by staff members in early March. After weeks of viewer voting on the National Zoo’s web site, three final names were chosen: Demetrio, Pablo and Fausto.
Each of the names hail from Central and South America, where giant anteaters range across grassland savannas and wetlands. The animals use their keen sense of smell to find anthills and termite mounds. They use their strong claws to tear them open and they use their saliva-covered, two-feet-long tongues to gather prey. The giant anteaters at the National Zoo feed mostly on a prepared insectivore chow and receive fruit and hard-boiled eggs as treats.
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