Over the Thanksgiving holiday the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo had plenty to be thankful for as they welcomed into the world their first ever baby giant anteater. Giant anteaters have been on exhibit at the Zoo ever since the RainForest opened in 1992 but this is the first instance of a successful breeding pair.
The as yet unnamed baby (whose gender is still undetermined was born to parents Pica (mom) and Kutter (dad) on November 25. Animal care and veterinary staff are allowing time for the baby and mother to bond but all observations indicate that the baby is healthy and doing well. Baby anteaters spend several weeks clinging to their mothers backs as they develop.
The birth of this baby comes as great news not only to the Zoo and RainForest but also to the managed nationwide population of giant anteaters as well. The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is a participant in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan for giant anteaters. This species is currently classified as “vulnerable” in the wild. SSP’s work together through cooperative breeding and management programs and work with threatened species that include black rhinos, African elephants, lowland gorillas and Amur tigers.
The birth was the culmination of a program in which the Zoo’s Conservation and Science staff monitored the female’s hormones which enabled them to predict the optimal time in her cycle to pair her with the male for fertilization. Further monitoring confirmed the pregnancy and allowed the staff to predict when the birth would happen.
As their name alludes, giant anteaters eat tens of thousands of ants and termites in a single day by using their long sticky tongue. Full grown they can reach up to seven feet long and weigh over one hundred pounds. Their Latin moniker is Myrmecophaga tridactyla. There are found primarily in Central and South America.
Northeast Ohio’s most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. From November 1 through March 31, 2014, admission is discounted to $8.25 per person, $5.25 for kids ages 2 to 11 and is free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Residents of Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township enjoy free Zoo admission on Mondays. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 90 and 480.
For more information, visit clevelandmetroparks.com/zoo or call (216) 661-6500.