This New Pup is a First for Parents Micah and Lou
The Los Angeles Zoo is thrilled to announce the arrival of the first southern tamandua pup (Tamandua tetradactyla) successfully bred at the Zoo. The unnamed pup was born on the evening of Aug. 28 to eight-year-old male Lou and six-year-old female, Micah. The pup is the first for both parents and a milestone for the L.A. Zoo. Gender will be determined at a later date through bloodwork.
“This is a significant birth for the Zoo,” said Mallory Peebles, senior animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. “This is the first time L.A. Zoo visitors will have the opportunity to see the species as a neonate and observe its development over time. We are thrilled with this new addition to our zoo family and its arrival is a testament to the care and wellbeing provided by our entire team.”
After mating, the female’s gestation lasts between 130 and 190 days, with Micah’s gestation lasting 164 days. The Zoo’s Animal Care team closely monitored Micah’s health, behaviors, and the development of the fetus through the course of her pregnancy. Keepers worked with Micah and successfully trained her to voluntarily position to allow veterinarians to perform ultrasound exams. This husbandry technique allows the animal to receive extraordinary care without the use of sedation.
Micah and the pup have been bonding and settling nicely into their habitat. Micah has been an attentive and caring new mother, often observed cuddling with her pup in their nest or touring the exhibit with her pup on her back.
This birth is a result of a pairing recommendation made by the Southern Tamandua Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program between AZA accredited zoos to maintain genetic diversity and sustainability in the North American zoo population. Although southern tamanduas are classified as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), habitat loss caused by human activities in their native South American range are a continuing threat to their survival. Wildfires, deforestation, road construction and traffic are some of the challenges faced by the species.
Southern tamanduas, also known as lesser anteaters, are found in forests, shrublands, and savannas of Colombia, Venezuela, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Uruguay, and Argentina. They use their sharp claws and prehensile tails to climb trees and hold onto branches in pursuit of ants, termites, bees, and even honey. Using their claws, they dig small holes in ant or termite nests and lick up the insects as they exit. While they don’t have teeth, they do have 16-inch-long tongues, which are covered with tiny rear-facing spines coated with thick saliva. An adult can typically consume 9,000 ants and termites per day. As with other species of anteater, mothers carry young tamanduas on their backs throughout the first months of life. Young remain with their mother for about one year before reaching sexual maturity and heading off on their own, as they are solitary animals.
Guests can now view the newborn pup and its parents in their habitat at the Nursery located next to the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo.