Public to Help the National Zoo's Giant Anteater Mother Name Her Pup

Beginning today, the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park is soliciting help to name its newest anteater—a male born this past winter. The public can vote for its favorite name via the Zoo’s website from a list provided by keepers and volunteers. The top three vote-getters will move to round two, and in a twist on the traditional voting format, Zoo keepers will allow the anteater’s mother, Maripi, to choose the winning name of her pup. Polls will be open for voting online until noon on March 28.  

On April 6, each of the three names will be coupled with a different enrichment object and placed in the anteater yard. Maripi will then be released into the yard and whichever object/name she goes to first will become her pup’s new name.

Each of the names selected by the staff has a specific meaning that they felt related to this offspring or the species in general. The giant anteater can be found in the wild from Central and South America from Honduras to northern Argentina.  

“This anteater pup is a very confident little guy,” said Marie Magnuson, animal keeper at the National Zoo. “During one of his first forays into the yard he was spotted off Maripi’s back, checking out all the new and exciting scents. Naming an animal with such a strong personality is always a tough decision but we’re excited to see how this turns out.”
Name choices:

  • Pablo: One of the most popular boys’ names in South America, this would suit the playful pup perfectly. Famous Pablos include artist Pablo Picasso and movie director Pablo Ferro. Will the Zoo’s anteater be the next famous Pablo?
  • Termito: Meaning “termite.” An anteater’s diet is heavily based on ants and termites. Anteaters use their keen sense of smell to detect termite mounds and anthills and tear them open with their strong claws. They then gather their prey using a two-foot-long tongue covered with very sticky saliva.
  • Demetrio: Meaning “of the earth.” Anteaters live in grassland savannahs, swamps, humid forests and wetlands. Almost everything they eat is “of the earth.” In addition to ants and termites, giant anteaters also eat ripe fruit that has fallen from the trees and the eggs of ground-nesting birds.
  • Fausto: Meaning “lucky.” This anteater pup had somewhat of a rocky start, and his survival is due to strength and luck. Just hours after he was born, keepers found the baby outside of the nest box with a low body temperature while his mother was asleep in the nest. The newborn was taken to the Zoo’s vet hospital, where he received a complete medical evaluation that included a controlled raise of his body temperature. Luckily, he rebounded quickly with the aid of keepers and veterinarians and was soon reunited with his mother where he continues to thrive.
  • Valerio: Meaning “to be healthy or strong.” This anteater is one tough guy. He and his mother have settled into a nice routine of eating, sleeping and going out in the yard when it is warm. He continues to grow as expected and is right on target for his age in growth and health.
The male anteater pup was born at the Zoo Dec. 7, 2010. This was the Zoo’s third anteater birth and Maripi’s third pup. In summer 2007, Maripi gave birth to a female, Aurora, who now resides at the Zoo Parc de Beauval in France. Cyrano was born in March 2009, and he now lives at the Nashville Zoo. The anteaters can be seen on exhibit next to Lemur Island, weather permitting.