This keeper update was written by Kenton Kerns.
If you've visited the Small Mammal House in the last two weeks, you may have noticed that our female tamandua Cayenne now has a male companion! Eight-year-old Manny arrived at the Zoo in March and, after a routine period in quarantine, he was introduced to his new exhibit mate. You can tell them apart because Cayenne is a little bigger than Manny, and his coat is a bit darker than hers.
We wanted the introduction process to be as smooth and stress-free as possible for both tamanduas. We introduced the pair in an off-exhibit area where we could monitor their behavior so they had plenty of room to get to know one another and also had space to be apart. For the first two weeks Cayenne and Manny could see and smell one another through an introduction screen. Once we saw they were interested in one another, we took it to the next level and allowed them access into each other's exhibit for a few hours each day. Now they have 24-hour access to one another.
Initially Cayenne wanted to play with Manny. She's much younger and is very playful! Manny, however, was not interested. After a few weeks of introductions, we found them sleeping near each other. That was an encouraging sign that the two were getting along.
The entire introduction process lasted about a month. When the pair made their debut on exhibit in the Small Mammal House May 7, we witnessed a lot of positive interactions—we're seeing those continue today! We monitor their interactions carefully to ensure nobody gets hurt (they have very strong claws). But it is obvious that they both enjoyed their wrestling play session in the video below. At different moments, the play paused, and each tamandua would jump on the other's back to start the play session again!
Both Manny and Cayenne are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' southern tamandua Species Survival Plan. We hope that the pair will continue to get along and—in future—contribute offspring to their species' survival!