Tamandua Keeper Q&A

What is a tamandua? An arboreal anteater! Biologist Kenton Kerns shares the scoop on the Zoo's new female, Cayenne, in the latest Q&A. Check her out on exhibit in the Small Mammal House.

What is Cayenne's personality like?

Tamanduas are nocturnal, so it takes Cayenne a while to wake up. But once she does, she's very energetic and is curious and inquisitive about her exhibit.

What does she do on exhibit?

When awake, Cayenne can be seen moving around the trees in her exhibit and using her prehensile tail to grasp branches. On ground level, she walks on the sides of her paws (just like giant anteaters do) to compensate for her huge claws. Visitors will see her use those claws as she rips apart the logs in her enclosure. Keepers often put her favorite treat (insects) inside to encourage this natural behavior. She then uses her sticky tongue to grab any insects that may be hiding in the log.

Are keepers training Cayenne?

Yes! We're teaching Cayenne to target train, which involved touching her nose to a target and receiving her favorite mealworm treat if she does the cued behavior. She often stays near the top of the exhibit, so to encourage her to come to the keepers when they call her also helps us evaluate her body condition in a calm and safe way. Her rewards are mealworms, which are her favorite treat!

What are her favorite toys?

Logs are definitely her favorite to tear apart! In terms of other enrichment items, we give her narrow tubes made of bamboo and PVC pipe filled with honey, peanut butter, or mealworms that she sticks her tongue into to reach the treats inside.