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.
January 23, 2009
On Tuesday, January 15, National Zoo scientists observed two twitterpated pandas. That’s right, darlings Mei Xiang and Tian Tian have been snuggling up together. Or at least trying to. Because, in the National Zoo’s words, “competent mating did not occur.”
On January 17, Mei was once again anesthetized and artificially inseminated. (“Competent mating”? Who can put on their A-game with people watching? Give those poor critters a break!)
Yeah, for most people this sounds like a really bad date—but even so, we’ve got our fingers crossed hoping that there’s a bun in the oven this year. (And we all remember Mei’s disappointing false pregnancy, right?) With only about 1,600 pandas left in the wild, every little butterstick that Mei can produce helps—and with Tai Shan currently set to return to China later this year, we would like another tyke on whom we can slather our affections. A new bundle of panda joy could pop out between 90 and 185 days from now and we here at ATM will keep you posted on all the latest panda happenings.