The last month has been a rollercoaster ride for the Zoo's screaming hairy armadillo pups, keepers and veterinarians. The two pups born Aug. 8 had been living in an off-exhibit den with their mom, Amber, just as the first litter of pups had in 2017. Keepers had been monitoring the pups with weekly weight checks, to ensure that they were growing.
However, during their routine weight and vital check on Sept. 5, the pups had lost weight and seemed weak, which was not normal. Keepers immediately rushed the pups and Amber to the veterinary hospital where veterinarians performed an emergency exam.
They quickly discovered that Amber had stopped producing milk and began trying to stabilize the pups with fluids. Despite their best efforts, one pup died at the hospital. The second pup, a male, responded to the fluids and started to recover. After a short stay at the veterinary hospital, veterinarians deemed the pup healthy enough to move back to the nursery at the Small Mammal House.
Since his move, he has been living in an incubator that mimics an armadillo den. He spent the first few weeks in the nursery nestled in a bowl lined with soft towels and sheets inside the 92-degree-Fahrenheit incubator. Keepers fed him seven times each day and stimulated him to urinate and defecate. Since he has been thriving in the nursery and steadily gaining weight, keepers are gradually reducing his number of feedings per day.
Keepers and veterinarians also performed a vital check every day for several weeks to ensure that everything is normal. The pup has gained more than 7 ounces, has opened his eyes and has begun to explore his incubator. Keepers have also outfitted the incubator with a bigger den for the growing pup.
If he continues to do well, keepers will move the pup to an exhibit in another month or two. Armadillo pups stop nursing and are weaned from their mothers by the time they are 2 months old, so the pup will not live with Amber after he returns to the exhibit.