The Los Angeles Zoo recently announced the first successful birth of a southern tamandua at their facilities. The pup, whose gender will be determined via bloodwork at a later date, was born on August 28 to first time parents mom Micah and dad Lou. The zoo reports that the pup has been bonding well with Micah—they state that "she has been an attentive and caring new mother, often observed cuddling with her pup in their nest or touring the habitat with her pup on her back."
Southern tamanduas are also known as "lesser anteaters." The Association of Zoos and Aquariums provides more information about the adorably snouted creatures:
Southern tamanduas . . . are found in forests, shrublands, and savannas of Colombia, Venezuela, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Uruguay, and Argentina. They use their sharp claws and prehensile tails to climb trees and hold onto branches in pursuit of ants, termites, bees, and even honey. They dig small holes in ant or termite nests using their claws and lick up the insects as they exit. While they don't have teeth, they do have 16-inch-long tongues, which are covered with tiny rear-facing spines coated with thick saliva. An adult can typically consume 9,000 ants and termites per day. As with other species of anteater, mothers carry young tamanduas on their backs throughout the first months of life. Young remain with their mother for about one year before reaching sexual maturity and heading off on their own, as they are solitary animals.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums describes the program that made this new arrival possible:
This birth is a result of a pairing recommendation made by the Southern Tamandua Species Survival Plan®, a cooperative breeding program between Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited facilities to maintain genetic diversity and sustainability in the North American zoo population. Although southern tamanduas are classified as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), habitat loss caused by human activities in their native South American range continues to threaten their survival. Wildfires, deforestation, road construction, and traffic are some of the challenges faced by the species.
They go on to quote Mallory Peebles, senior animal keeper at the LA Zoo, on the significance of this birth:
"This is the first time L.A. Zoo visitors will have the opportunity to see the species as a neonate and observe its development over time. We are thrilled with this new addition to our zoo family and its arrival is a testament to the care and wellbeing provided by our entire team."
If you're lucky enough to be in Los Angeles, you can see the pup, Micah, and Lou in the tamandua habitat at the Nursery.