There's a new addition at the Miami Zoo: a baby giant anteater
Baby Anteater Born on 'Coldest Night' at Miami Zoo Beats the Odds After Being Abandoned By Mom
This little guy with a long tongue is a fighter.
According to a release from Zoo Miami, a baby anteater, believed to be a male, was born on the evening of Dec. 8 to mom Laura.
"Unfortunately, this happened to be one of the coldest nights of the year in Miami, and the newborn was found abandoned in the corner of its holding area, weak and cold," the Florida zoo wrote in their release.
After finding the newborn, the zoo raced the baby anteater to the zoo's hospital and placed it in intensive care. While keepers were uncertain if the little animal would pull through, the baby anteater became more responsive as it started to warm up and receive fluids.
RELATED: World's Oldest Panda in Captivity Dies of Organ Failure at 38
Forty-eight hours after bringing the animal to the hospital, the zoo's staff tried reintroducing the baby to its mother. The 7-year-old mom showed interest in the infant anteater at first, allowing the baby to ride on her back, but soon became disinterested in her child.
It became clear to keepers that Laura was unwilling to accept her baby, which meant it was up to them to raise the little anteater. The baby is now being hand-reared by the zoo's staff, which means bottle feedings every 3 hours and around-the-clock monitoring.
This dedicated care is paying off. The baby anteater continues to gain strength, according to Zoo Miami, and is starting to grow its "distinct black and white coat."
RELATED: Zoo Llamas Destroy and Devour Holiday Decorations Seconds After Keepers Put Them Up
"Zoo veterinarians are cautiously optimistic that the baby has overcome the most serious challenges of its first few days and are hoping that the improvements continue though there are still obstacles ahead as there would be for any infant in this situation," the zoo shared in its release on the birth.
Looks can be deceiving: Its name is a hint to one of its favorite foods, and you can't miss its long snout, but there's more to the story of the giant anteater! This unique animal is the largest of the four anteater species (the others are the silky anteater, the northern tamandua, and the southern tamandua). The giant anteater is about the size of a golden retriever, but thick, bushy hair makes it look even bigger.
The anteater's gray hair feels like straw and grows especially long on the tail (up to 16 inches or 40 centimeters), and it sports a stylish stripe of black that stretches from under the nose to the middle of the back. This stripe is outlined in white, tan, or gray and goes down to a black ring around the base of the front feet. The hairy, bushy tail is often used as a blanket or sunshade. The giant anteater’s elongated head and nose are perfectly designed to get in and out of a termite mound or anthill.
Giant anteaters walk with a slow shuffle on all four legs with their nose pointed to the ground. They don’t walk on their feet; instead, with the claws curled up into the feet, anteaters walk on their "fists." This helps to keep the claws sharp so anteaters can dig into ant mounds or defend themselves from predators. Anteaters are also good swimmers, using the freestyle stroke and with their long snout as a snorkel.
Pictures baby anteater
10 fascinating facts about giant anteaters
How many species of anteater are there?
There are four known species of anteaters:
- giant anteater (also known as the ant bear), Myrmecophaga tridactyla
- northern tamandua, Tamandua mexicana
- southern tamandua (also known as the collared anteater or lesser anteater), Tamandua tetradactyla
- silky anteater (also known as the pygmy anteater), Cyclopes didactylus
As its name suggests, the giant anteater is largest of these.
How big is the giant anteater?
Giant anteaters can reach up to 2m in length and weigh up to 55kg – on its hind legs, giant anteaters are taller than a grown man!
What are giant anteaters related to?
One of the closest relatives to the giant anteater is the pygmy sloth, who both shared a common ancestor over 55 million years ago!
Where are giant anteaters found?
Giant anteaters have been recorded from Central America through to Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina, although in its Central American range it is greatly reduced and confined to highland regions. They tend to be found in tropical moist forest, dry forest, savannas and open grasslands.
Why do giant anteaters look like that?
Giant anteaters are quite distinctive looking – their long snouts contain a sticky tongue which can extend up to 50cm! They have long claws for opening up termite and ant nests which are so large that they appear to walk on their wrists. They also have a bushy tail which they use as a sunshade.
What do giant anteaters eat?
Anteaters primarily eat ants and termites – up to 30,000 a day.
Giant anteaters are well adapted to feast on their favourite foods – they are poorly sighted but use their keen sense of smell to detect ant and termite nests and then their sharp claws to rip them open. They don’t have teeth, so they slurp up their prey with their long sticky tongues.
These ants will bite back, so giant anteaters are equipped with thick skin and long hairs to protect them from ant bites.
What are giant anteater families like?
Giant anteaters tend to be solitary animals, with a female birthing and raising a single offspring per year. The baby is carried on its mothers back for up to six months.
Are giant anteaters dangerous?
Giant anteaters are generally docile, but if they feel threatened they can rear-up on their hind legs and swipe with their claws. They’re not to be messed with – giant anteaters can fight off pumas and jaguars!
How long do giant anteaters live for?
The life expectancy of a giant anteater is around 10.5 years for females and 14.8 years for males.
Are giant anteaters at risk of extinction?
According to the IUCN Red List, the giant anteater is listed as Vulnerable. It’s considered the most threatened mammal of Central America and is listed on Appendix II of CITES and its range lies in many protected areas.
The giant anteater also features on the ZSL EDGE of Existence Mammal List due to its threatened status and its high evolutionary distinctiveness. The main threats to the giant anteater include habitat loss through fires, hunting as pests or for food and being killed by cars when crossing roads that run through their natural habitat.
Main image: Giant anteater. © Shutterstock
Ignatius-Roy Hillcoat-Nalletamby is a EDGE of Existence Storytelling Intern at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
Giant Anteater is born at Zoo Miami and defies odds of survival after its mother rejected it
A tiny giant Anteater named Ziggy has been born at Zoo Miami and has so far defied all odds of survival after its mother rejected it, leaving it out in the cold in freezing temperatures.
The baby, who is thought to be a boy, came into the world in the early hours of December 8 sharing mom Laura's birthday.
Ziggy was named in memory of British superstar David Bowie's alter ego Ziggy Stardust, almost exactly four years after the zoo welcomed its first Giant Anteater to be born there and named it Bowie.
Adorable pictures show the newborn - now just 10 days old - being cared for by the Zoo Miami Animal Health and Animal Science teams and snuggling up to a cuddly toy that is almost as big as it.
A tiny giant Anteater (pictured) has been born at Zoo Miami and has so far defied all odds of survival after its mother rejected it, leaving it out in the cold in freezing temperatures
The adorable baby Giant Anteater - now just 10 days old - is pictured snuggling up to a cuddly toy that is almost as big as it
Ziggy, who is thought to be a boy, came into the world in the early hours of December 8 sharing mom Laura's birthday
However, in true 2020 fashion, it hasn't been the smoothest of starts for the little one.
The story took a sad turn as Laura, aged 7, abandoned her child after birth in the corner of her holding area at the South Florida attraction.
Ziggy was found weak and cold on what was one of the coldest nights of the year in Miami and was rushed to the zoo hospital and placed in intensive care.
Zoo hospital staff feared the little baby wouldn't survive the winter.
The animal health team took the infant under their wing tube-feeding it with milk from Laura and formula substitute, the zoo said.
Ziggy proved to be a fighter, becoming stronger and more responsive until, after two days, the zoo team tried to reunite it with Laura.
The zoo said Laura initially let the baby be placed on her back, but then grew intolerant and showed signs she was not going to care for it.
The newborn - now just 10 days old - is bottled fed by the Zoo Miami Animal Health and Animal Science teams
However, in true 2020 fashion, it hasn't been the smoothest of starts for the little one. The story took a sad turn as Laura, aged 7, abandoned her child after birth
The newborn was found weak and cold on what was one of the coldest nights of the year in Miami and zoo hospital staff feared the little baby wouldn't survive the winter
And the baby proved it is a fighter, becoming stronger and more responsive until, after two days, the zoo team tried to reunite it with Laura. But Laura rejected it again and it was returned to the hospital
Ziggy was returned to the hospital where it was tube-fed again.
But the baby continued to defy all odds, becoming stronger and stronger and it is now feeding through a bottle and on its own.
Zoo workers continue to give the baby round the clock care and said the baby's distinctive black and white coat has started to grow in.
Zoo Miami said it is now 'cautiously optimistic' that the baby is over the worst of its troubles but warned 'there are still obstacles ahead as there would be for any infant in this situation'.
Ron Magill, Zoo Goodwill Ambassador and Communications Director, told DailyMail.com Ziggy is a 'positive symbol' for overcoming challenges in what has been a difficult year.
'At a time when the world is facing so many challenges, it is so uplifting to see this little guy overcome his significant challenges and continue to grow and thrive,' he said.
'Hopefully, he can represent a positive symbol for all of us during this holiday season!'
The baby is weighed by a member of the zoo hospital team. The baby has defied all odds and zoo workers said the baby's distinctive black and white coat has started to grow in
The baby is now feeding through a bottle (above) and on its own while staff continue to give it round the clock care
Zoo Miami said it is now 'cautiously optimistic' that the baby is over the worst of its troubles but warned 'there are still obstacles ahead as there would be for any infant in this situation'
A Zoo Miami worker cradles the newborn after its mom rejected it. Giant anteaters are the largest of four anteater species reaching a length of 6 to 8 feet
The zoo welcomed the first giant anteater ever to be born there back in December 2016.
Baby 'Bowie' was then introduced to zoo patrons at the Amazon and Beyond exhibit the following February.
Giant anteaters are the largest of four anteater species reaching a length of 6 to 8 feet.
They are known for their giant tongues, which can reach up to 2 feet long - the longest in the entire animal kingdom.
But despite their cute appearance, they are surprisingly feisty and have been known to take on big cats including jaguars and pumas with their sharp claws.
The animals feed on termites and ants – eating up to 30,000 in a single day - and are native to Central and South America, where they live around 14 years in the wild.
Share or comment on this article:
The comments below have not been moderated.
The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.
We are no longer accepting comments on this article.
- Cool minecraft names
- Watsons reviews
- Clear bucket for drinks
- Jets vinyl civic
- Funny ghost sound
- Call ducks for sale california
- Volkswagen buggy parts
- Average weight for men uk
- Unlock droid ultra
- Pebble vector
- Pycharm clear console
Giant anteaters are found in Central and South America, from southern Belize and Guatemala to northern Argentina. (Redford and Eisenberg, 1992)
Giant anteaters use a variety of habitats, including swamp, forests, and grasslands. They choose secluded, covered areas for sleeping. Giant anteaters can be found in both rural and densely populated areas. (Shaw, et al., 1987; Anderson, 1967)
Giant anteaters are quite distinctive morphologically, they are the largest of the anteater species. The snout is long (up to 45 cm in length) and the skull is streamlined with small eyes and ears. The tail is large and bushy and is nearly as long as the body. Head and body length measures 1,000 to 1,200 mm and tail length 650 to 900 mm. Weight ranges from 18 to 39 kg. Giant anteaters have fur that is thick and coarse and longer towards the tail. Their coat is brown with black and white stripes on the shoulders and a crest of hair along the middle of the back. The forelegs are white with black bands at the toes. Their hindfeet have 5 short claws, while their forefeet have 5 claws with the inner 3 being very long and sharp. They walk on the wrists of their forefeet, with these large claws curled out of the way. Giant anteaters have no teeth. The tongue can be extended 610 mm outside of the mouth and has spine-like protrusions. (Naples, 1999; Shaw, et al., 1987)
The mating system of M. tridactyla is not known. Reproductive behavior is primarily observed in captivity. The male stands over the female who lays on her side during copulation. (Jones, 1982)
Gestation is approximately 190 days, after which females give birth to a single young which weighs about 1.3 kg. Females give birth standing up and immediately the young anteater climbs onto her back. Young are born with a full coat of hair and adult-like markings. Breeding occurs year-round in captivity and the wild, though seasonal breeding times have been reported in portions of their range. Inter-birth intervals can be as low as 9 months. Sexual maturity is reached between 2.5 and 4 years. The mammary glands are lateral to the 'armpits' on the chest. (Shaw, et al., 1987; Redford and Eisenberg, 1992; Nowak, 1999)
Young are born with a full coat of hair and adult markings and are capable of clinging to their mother at birth. A mother will carry the baby on her back until it is almost half her size, about 6 to 9 months. Young suckle for 2 to 6 months. They become independent after about 2 years, or when the mother becomes pregnant again, which may be sooner. (Nowak, 1999)
Giant anteaters have been known to live up to 25 years and 10 months in captivity. Their longevity in the wild is unknown. (Jones, 1982)
Giant anteaters are usually solitary, except for mother-young pairs, only coming together for brief periods for courtship and agonistic encounters. They may have large, defined home ranges up to 9,000 ha in area, but they also wander extensively. When giant anteaters encounter each other in the wild they often simply ignore each other or run away, though agonistic encounters do also occur. Usually diurnal, giant anteaters will become nocturnal in areas of high human density or during certain kinds of weather. They are terrestrial but are good swimmers as well and, though they don't often climb in the wild, they are reported to be skilled at climbing out of enclosures in captivity. Sleeping occurs in abandoned burrows, dense vegetation, or depressions in the ground. Although they have the ability to dig well, they do not construct burrows. When fights occur individuals rear into a bipedal stance using the tail to balance and the forelimbs to fight. They shuffle while walking and move slowly but are capable of running quickly if necessary. Their weight is born on the knuckles and wrist to protect the claws. (Shaw, et al., 1987; Anderson, 1967)
Home ranges may be as big as 9,000 hectares in area. (Redford and Eisenberg, 1992; Nowak, 1999)
Communication and Perception
Most communication occurs between young and their mothers or during fighting. It consists of snorts, sniffs, and hisses, as well as roaring during fights. Sight and hearing are diminished. Smell is highly developed-40 times that of humans. (Shaw, et al., 1987; Redford and Eisenberg, 1992)
Giant anteaters eat ants, termites, and soft-bodied grubs. Using the long, sharp claws on their forelimbs, they open insect colonies and tree trunks. They then use the tongue to collect the eggs, larvae, and adult insects. The salivary glands secrete sticky saliva during feeding that coats the tongue. They only stay at one ant colony for a short period of time because soldier ants arrive but giant anteaters can consume a few thousand insects in minutes. The tongue is attached to the sternum and moves very quickly, flicking 150 times per minute. They may sometimes eat fruit. (Naples, 1999)
Giant anteaters can use their immense front claws to defend themselves from predators, though their typical response to threat is to run away. Their size makes them invulnerable to all but the largest of predators, jaguars and pumas primarily. They are often killed by humans, either intentionally through hunting or unintentionally through collisions with cars. (Nowak, 1999)
Giant anteaters, through their diet, have an enormous impact on local insect communities. (Nowak, 1999)
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Giant anteaters are hunted for food, fur, and sport. They are also valuable for the criical ecosystem roles they play. (Shaw, et al., 1987; Anderson, 1967)
- body parts are source of valuable material
- controls pest population
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
Giant anteaters are increasingly killed in car accidents. ("Rainforest Conservation Fund: Species Data for Giant Anteater", 2001)
Habitat destruction is the primary threat to giant anteaters. They are listed as Appendix II by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Appendix II is defined as a species not necessarily threatened to extinction but one that should be controlled in trade to avoid overuse. They are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). 'Vulnerable' is defined as an estimated population reduction of 20% in the next 10 years. ("Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna", 2003; "International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources", 1997)
Amy Woltanski (author), Michigan State University, Barbara Lundrigan (editor), Michigan State University.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
uses sound to communicate
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
- active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
- female parental care
parental care is carried out by females
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
- tropical savanna and grassland
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
- temperate grassland
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
- year-round breeding
breeding takes place throughout the year
- young precocial
young are relatively well-developed when born
CITES Secretariat. 2003. "Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna" (On-line ). Accessed 02/02/03 at .
IUCN. 1997. "International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources" (On-line ). Accessed 02/02/03 at .
Rain Forest Conservation Fund. 2001. "Rainforest Conservation Fund: Species Data for Giant Anteater" (On-line ). Accessed 02/02/03 at .
Anderson, S. 1967. Recent Mammals of the World. New York: The Ronald Press Company.
Jones, M. 1982. Longevity of captive mammals. Zool. Garten, 52: 113-128.
Naples, V. 1999. Morphology, evolution, and function of feeding in the giant anteater. Journal of Zoology-London, 249: 19-41.
Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Volume I. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Redford, K., J. Eisenberg. 1992. Mammals of the Neotropics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Shaw, , Machado-Neto, Carter. 1987. Behavior of free-living giant anteaters. Biotropica, 19(3): 255-259.