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Santa Barbara Zoo Welcomes Giant Anteater Pup

The male pup, which will be named by a donor to the zoo, was born Thursday and is the second giant anteater born at the zoo this year

The Santa Barbara Zoo is welcoming the newest addition to its family — a giant anteater pup that was born last Thursday and has been happily hanging out on its mother's back since then.

The male pup, which has not been named yet, will be off-exhibit with its mother for two weeks in a private holding area away from the public, according to Julia McHugh, zoo spokeswoman who announced the birth Tuesday.

It was born on Nov. 6 and is the second birth for the zoo's giant anteaters, Anara and Ridley.

Their first pup, which was born March 1, will be moved to the Staten Island Zoo next week. That pup will be on view until it leaves for the East Coast as part of a cooperative breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

That pup was the first giant anteater to be born at the zoo since 2006, and the first offspring for Anara and Ridley. The pup was one of a pair of twins, but the female newborn pup did not survive. 

The male giant anteater pup hasn't been named yet. (Santa Barbara Zoo photo)

“While we were delighted with the success of our hand-reared offspring from spring 2014, we are even more excited that Anara is figuring out how to be a good mom on her own this time,” said Sheri Horiszny, the zoo's director of animal care. “We imported dad, Ridley, from Germany four years ago to add to the genetics of the North American population, and we are pleased that we are now beginning to make that contribution.” 

The zoo has a long history of success with giant anteaters, and a total of 27 of the animals have been born there since 1975, which has helped contribute to the zoo's nationwide study of the species.

One of the zoo's anteaters, Grandma, had more than 15 offspring and lived to be the oldest giant anteater in captivity when it died at 31 years old in 2002.

Giant anteaters were once found in parts of Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica and parts of South America, but there have been significant population declines over the past decade, zoo officials said.

The newborn pup is the 27th giant anteater to be born at the Santa Barbara Zoo. (Santa Barbara Zoo photo)

The pup born last week may eventually reach a body length of 3 to 4 feet long and could weigh up to 100 pounds. It will use its long tongue to slurp up termites, ants and grubs.

The pup has not been named yet, and will be named by someone making a donation to the zoo. That donation will also go to support the AZA giant anteater cooperative breeding program and the goal of increased genetic diversity in North American zoos. 

For more information on how to get involved, contact the zoo’s Development Department for details at 805.962.5339 or by clicking here

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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