With its long body, bushy tail, distinctive markings, large claws, elongated snout, and tongue that can reach 24 inches in length, the giant anteater is an intriguing species. Adult anteaters fascinate zoo visitors, and of course, it’s also pretty special to see a baby giant anteater like the one at the Nashville Zoo.
On September 19, 2012, Nashville Zoo staff were pleased to welcome the baby, who was born to mother, Emilia, and father, Oscar. Emilia and her male pup are doing well and are currently living together in the off-exhibit giant anteater barn.
The breeding of Emilia and Oscar was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) program, which is a cooperative animal management, breeding, and conservation program that works toward ensuring genetically-diverse, self-sustaining populations of more than 500 species of animals for public education, conservation and research to help ensure long-term species survival. This is the eleventh giant anteater born at the Nashville Zoo as part of the Zoo’s successful breeding program.
In addition to the conservation efforts being taken at the Nashville Zoo, the pup’s arrival also gives the facility another distinction.
“Nashville Zoo is a leader in conservation efforts to save giant anteaters from extinction,” said Connie Philipp, mammal curator at the Zoo. “With the birth of the new baby, the Zoo is now home to 12 giant anteaters, the largest collection in the country.”
Guests can visit the entire collection of giant anteaters through a Behind the Scenes or Back Stage Pass Tour. More information can be found at www.nashvillezoo.org.
Giant anteaters are solitary animals from the tropical forests of Central and South America. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the giant anteater as vulnerable, although it is considered extinct in areas of Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Uruguay.
Contributing Writer: Mary Brenna Corr