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Belfast Zoo welcomes baby anteater and you can help to name it

Published 18/02/2016

Anteaters at Belfast Zoo
Anteaters at Belfast Zoo
Anteaters at Belfast Zoo
Anteaters at Belfast Zoo
Anteaters at Belfast Zoo
Anteaters at Belfast Zoo
Anteaters at Belfast Zoo

Belfast Zoo's giant anteaters have welcomed a new arrival and now they need help to find a name.

Endangered South American mammals Kara and Pancho gave birth to the baby on 22 December last year and it is now starting to take its first steps outside.

For the first six months, Kara will keep the little one close by and carry the pup on her back.

Although keepers at the zoo haven't been able to find out what sex the baby is, they're now looking for visitors to name the pup.

Zoo curator, Alyn Cairns, said: “We are all delighted to welcome a new member to the zoo family. Kara is a fantastic mum and for the first six months she will carry the pup on her back nearly all the time.  While this is great camouflage from predators, it also makes it extremely difficult for the keepers to get a good look at the infant to find out whether it is male or female and we don’t want to disrupt the pair at this stage.  Even though we don’t know what sex the pup is, the team have come up with some names and we would love your help to pick one."

His dad Pancho arrived in Belfast from Duisburg Zoo (Germany), in 2012, and was joined by mum Kara from Olomouc Zoo, in February 2015, as part of the European breeding programme.  There are only 200 giant anteaters living in zoos around the world and Pancho and Kara are the only breeding pair in Ireland.

As the name suggests, the giant anteater is the world’s biggest anteater species and can grow up to seven feet in length.   In Central and South America they live in the grasslands and rainforests and, while this species was once widespread, today their numbers vary drastically between countries.  They are considered one of the most threatened mammals in Central America.  In fact in Brazil, there are serious concerns because, in some areas where they once roamed, there are now none left.

Alyn added: “Giant anteater populations have declined by 30% between 2000 and 2010, showing how vulnerable the species is.  Our latest arrival is not only cause for celebration for Belfast Zoo and the breeding programme but also for giant anteater conservation as a whole.  Giant anteaters are unquestionably one of the most unusual looking species.  They have a long snout, long hair, a large bushy tail and a long tongue which is approximately 50 centimetres in length!  They use their tongue to mop up insects and can eat up to 30,000 insects in a single day!  We have no doubt that the newest arrival is going to be a popular addition with both staff and visitors.”

You can help to name the zoo’s latest arrival by placing your vote at http://woobox.com/vrr9jp.

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