The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a giant anteater born yesterday, March 12, in an indoor enclosure. This is only the second giant anteater to be born in the history of the Zoo.
National Zoo animal care staff and veterinarians have been closely monitoring mother Maripi (ma-RIP-ee) for the past six months, performing weekly ultrasounds and other diagnostics. Staff expected Maripi to give birth in mid to late March based on the typical gestation period of giant anteaters.
National Zoo staff has yet to determine the baby’s gender or weight—and may not for some time. Maripi is showing excellent maternal instinct in caring for her baby and is very patient as the baby nurses and negotiates various techniques of climbing onto mother’s back. Staff will make every effort to not disturb the animals, allowing time for mother and baby to bond.
The baby’s father, Dante—who is separated from mother and baby—plays no part in the rearing of offspring. This is the second offspring of Maripi and Dante. In summer 2007, Maripi gave birth to a female, Aurora, who now resides at the Zoo Parc de Beauval in France.
Mother and baby will remain off exhibit until further notice. Dante can be seen on exhibit next to Lemur Island, weather depending.
Giant anteaters live in grassland savannahs, swamps, humid forests and wetlands, and their habitat spans most of Latin America—from Belize to Argentina. Anteaters use their keen sense of smell to detect termite mounds and anthills and tear them open with strong claws. They then gather their prey using a two-foot-long tongue covered with very sticky saliva. Their tongues help them collect insects—they can eat up to 30,000 ants a day. Maripi and Dante have lived at the National Zoo since 2006 and are on loan from the Nashville Zoo.