The first ever birth of a baby giant anteater at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo made for a happy Thanksgiving indeed. The Zoo has exhibited this species in The RainForest since it opened in 1992, but has never had a successful breeding pair of anteaters until now.

The baby, whose gender is still undetermined, was born on exhibit on November 25 to mom, Pica, and dad, Kutter. The baby appears healthy and seems to be doing well. Members of the animal care and veterinary staff are keeping their distance and giving mom and baby time to bond. The baby will cling to its mother’s back for several weeks as it develops.

The baby anteater is a welcome addition not just to The RainForest, but to the managed nationwide population of giant anteaters as well. The Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan for giant anteaters, which are classified as “vulnerable” in the wild. SSPs are cooperative breeding and management groups for endangered or threatened species including black rhinos, African elephants, lowland gorillas and Amur tigers.

The successful birth was a direct result of the techniques employed by the Zoo’s Conservation and Science staff that monitored the female’s hormones to predict the optimal time in her cycle to pair her with the male for fertilization. Further hormone monitoring allowed the Zoo to confirm the animal’s pregnancy and make a reasonable prediction on when the birth might take place.

Giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) are native to Central and South America and can eat tens of thousands of ants and termites in a single day with their long, sticky tongue. Full-grown males can measure up to 7 feet long and weigh more than 100 pounds.

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.
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