A male giant anteater born at the Santa Barbara Zoo on March 1 is being hand-raised by keepers and won’t be on view for some time, possibly several months.
This is the first birth of the species at the zoo since 2006, and the first offspring for the zoo’s adult pair, Anara and Ridley.
Anara, age 2, gave birth to twins, but the female newborn pup did not survive. Twins in anteaters are rare, though Anara is a twin and was also hand-raised, at the Fresno Zoo. The unnamed male pup weighed 1.58 kilograms at birth (about 3½ pounds) and 1.84 kilograms (4 pounds) on Friday.
“The prognosis for the little guy is good, but still somewhat guarded,” said Sheri Horiszny, the zoo’s director of animal programs. “Giant anteater pups have a 50 percent mortality rate in the first three months of life, and he did not get the valuable colostrum from his mother’s first milk for added immune support.”
The pup is being fed Esbilac, a puppy milk replacer.
“He made it clear that he preferred this to the kitten milk replacer that we tried first,” Horiszny said.
The cause of death for the female twin has not been determined.
“Our female is a first time mom,” Horiszny said, “and she was not willing to care for two babies. This male pup was not being allowed to cling to her or nurse, so we began hand-rearing him on the afternoon of his birth.”
Keepers observed that the female pup seemed more able to cling and appeared to be nursing, but she was found dead the morning of March 5.
“We did not feel that it was in the best interest of the young male to put him back with mom, and so have continued to hand-raise him,” Horiszny said.
The sire, Ridley, is 6 years old and was imported from Germany’s Zoo Dortmund in 2008 as part of a cooperative breeding program.
— Julia McHugh is the public relations director for the Santa Barbara Zoo.