Showing posts with label giant anteaters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label giant anteaters. Show all posts

December 5, 2013

song for an unusual creature

My friend Michael Hearst has been writing about unusual creatures for quite some time now, and I've delighted in his inclusion of giant anteaters among his literary and musical creations. Last year he published an Unusual Creatures book with entries on critters from the blobfish to the elephant shrew to everyone's favorite fuzzy long-nosed mammal. Michael is also an accomplished musician who has interpreted the musical essence of some of these animals by writing about them in song!

As you might imagine, when I first learned Michael was thinking up ideas for his unusual creatures songs I chatted with him about giant anteaters and even tried to help him obtain some anteater sound recordings. More recently, Michael paid a visit to Anteater Central—a.k.a. the Nashville Zoo—to meet a couple of giant anteaters in person and listen to what they sound like for himself! He was inspired to write a new anteater tune, which you can download for free from the Unusual Creatures website. Here's a great little clip from PBS Digital on how it all went down! •>~

September 6, 2013

toon time

I've got a few exciting anteater posts in the works, and I hope to get them up in the next month or so, but I couldn't wait to share with you this excellent cartoon by David Borchart from this week's New Yorker magazine. A new take on the term, "ant trap," for sure! Head on over to The New Yorker to see the full line of cartoons from the September 9th issue. •>~

September 29, 2012

say cheese!

Some of you may know that our National Zoo, run by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., has been home to a number of giant anteaters over the years (see, for example, A Visit to D.C.). What may surprise you, however, is that the Smithsonian also supports the study of animal behaviors in the wild! To wit, the giant anteater photo above was captured in a Peruvian forest as part of a research project that used a camera trap—a popular method for observing animals in their natural habitats.

So what the heck is a camera trap? Here's how it works: Scientists set up cameras in remote places where wild animals are thought to roam, and whenever the camera senses motion or body heat, it snaps a series of pictures! The main benefit to science of such a system is that biologists don't have to waste time sitting out in the jungle or in an open field waiting for an animal to come along. Plus, since the camera is an inanimate object, animals are much more likely to approach!

If you're curious to learn more about the Smithsonian's camera trap programs, visit their WILD site, which explains how it's done in a bit more detail. You can also check out some of the wild animals they've seen this way, from birds to bears to leopards to (of course) anteaters. •>~

Update: Don't miss these two fantastic videos of a giant anteaters doing their thing in the woods. The first was caught with a camera trap some 500 meters from the Amazon Rainforest Conservation Center Lodge in Las Piedras, Peru. The anteater's backside looks pretty wet...wonder if he/she was just coming in from a swim? The second provides an insightful look at an anteater wallowing directly in a water hole.

August 20, 2012

three fabulous paintings

I spy some excellent anteater art! First up is a gorgeous piece by a Spanish artist from the Canary Islands, Miguel Bethencourt. Next is a whimsical mom-and-pup scene by Susan Stockdale, which can be purchased at her Etsy shop. And the last find is a unique work by the Drake Studio. Painted skillfully on ceramic tile, it can also be had via Etsy. •>~

March 17, 2012

artsy anteaters

Decided to do a little digging for some new giant anteater art, and I came up with some great finds! The anteater dictionary page by The Rekindled Page and the illustration by Luka of an anteater and a chameleon can both be found on Etsy. The lovely super-sized anteater can be ordered as a print, a shirt, a hoodie or a laptop skin from Society6. Last, but not least, I wanted to show off my custom-made doormat from Damn Good Doormats. It's almost too nice to wipe my feet on! •>~

April 2, 2011

a visit to d.c.

Earlier this year I was invited to spend some time with the giant anteaters at our National Zoo in Washington D.C. I'd been to the zoo many times before; in fact, my earliest encounter with a giant anteater took place there when I was seven years old! So I didn't need convincing when I was offered a behind-the-scenes look at the zoo's anteater barn.

I met Marie Magnuson and Leigh Pitsko, staff animal keepers, outside the great cats exhibit area, where they were attending to an errant sock that had somehow made its way over a sizable moat and into the resident tiger's front yard. Before we went to catch up with the zoo's anteaters, I got a chance to say hello to seven young lions, who were hanging out deep inside the bowels of the great cats holding area. Let me tell you right now: lion cubs, though they might weigh as much as a large dog just a few months after birth, are all pussycat when it comes to behavior! But I digress...

After briefly visiting the keepers' office opposite the cubs, we wandered over to the anteater barn, where the zoo's three giant anteaters overnight and overwinter. I was especially excited to be meeting the zoo's newest anteater, a young male pup born a couple of months prior. As you can read in a previous post, this guy had quite a scare in his first week of life, but he'd recovered just fine and had grown to be only a little larger than your average house cat.

I was introduced first to Dante, the pup's father, who was curled up in his straw-lined crate. I'd known that giant anteaters' long fluffy tails are used as a blanket in the wild (Marie added that they work as umbrellas, too), but I'd never seen an anteater actually sleeping before. If Marie hadn't woken him up, I would have sworn he was a miniature Cousin It—all hair and no discernible features. But he finally poked his snout out to see what all the commotion was. Dante was born in the wild, so he's a more cautious anteater, and zookeepers need to be extra careful around him lest he lash out unexpectedly with his formidable front claws. Giant anteaters are mostly gentle giants, but they've got some serious protective weapons, so humans have to respect that and exercise great care around them, especially if they haven't been reared around people.

Next we turned to Maripi, the female, and her as-yet-unnamed pup! Marie lovingly swept the little guy into her arms and brought him out into the hall for a meet-and-greet. This is Maripi's third pup, and I was told that aside from his initial scare, he's been a very easy-going baby. He's apparently comfortable being away from his mom more than other pups, who might yelp if they fall off their mother's back. He seemed quite at home being held by a human, and he certainly didn't shy away from the attention! Marie made a point of showing me his growing claws, which were already approaching two inches long. Next, she prepared a peanut butter treat for Maripi inside something that resembled a hollowed out rubber dog toy. While Maripi noshed, her pup climbed onto her fur and put on a little show for his visitors. As you can see in the short video up top, he actually sat side-saddle on Maripi's back for a few minutes, which is apparently quite rare for anteater babies!

Soon after the snack, it was time to take leave of my long-snouted friends. I asked Marie when the pup would finally be named, and she mentioned that the zoo was planning a naming contest in which the public could participate. Online voting between five contending names—Pablo, Termito, Demetrio, Fausto, and Valerio—ended this past week, but the decision still awaits a certain anteater's input! The zoo has decided that mom Maripi will have the final say in the name of her baby. She'll choose next week, on April 7th, between the three top vote-getters based on "enrichment objects" placed in the anteater yard!

I want to thank the National Zoo for allowing me a "backstage tour," and in particular Marie Magnuson for showing me around. Whether you live in the DC area or are just passing through, the National Zoo is definitely worth a visit, especially in the warmer spring and summer months, when the anteaters are more likely to be on display. And I highly recommend heading down there while the current pup is young and adorable! •>~

Update: Maripi has made her call: Pablo it is!

January 16, 2011

meet the anteater keeper

Giant anteaters have been on exhibit at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. since 1907. Today, the zoo is home to two adults and a brand new baby boy, born on December 7th. Watching over these creatures great and small is Marie Magnuson, one of the zoo’s animal keepers. Magnuson was gracious enough to answer some questions I had about her job, the anteaters she cares for, and a major scare involving the zoo’s newest pup.

OA: How did you first become interested in giant anteaters?

MM: Seeing an anteater in the wild has always been on my “bucket list.” They are just such beautiful animals and so unlike anything else. I've been employed at the National Zoo since 1999, but volunteered for about seven years before that. When I learned that we would be getting giant anteaters here, and that I would be part of the team caring for them, I was over the moon.

OA: The National Zoo currently houses two adult giant anteaters, Dante and Maripi. What are they like? Do they have any “personality” traits?

MM: You need to work with them a while to really get to know them, but they definitely each have their own personality. Their facial expressions never change, so you have to pay attention to body language when working with them. Maripi is very relaxed and easygoing. The only time I have seen her upset is when she hears an alarm cry from her pup. Dante is a little more easily upset. Unlike Maripi, who was born at the Nashville Zoo, Dante was born in the wild and taken as a youngster to be part of a breeding program here in the U.S. So I think that may be the reason.

OA: You’ve written previously that anteaters don’t do all that much thinking. Indeed, they have pretty small brains for their body size. Is there anything you can teach them? Do they get used to routines at all?

MM: It depends on what you mean by “teach”. Dante can target. This means that we can hold a pole, tap the ground with the end, say “Target!” and Dante will go to the end of the pole and put his nose against it. This is very handy when weighing him. Sometimes Maripi remembers how to target and sometimes, well…

A lot of the training we do with the anteaters is to desensitize them to being in close proximity to humans and to tolerate being touched. We’re hoping that they will allow “voluntary“ medical procedures. Maripi is great with this, and we have been able to ultrasound her through all three pregnancies. This tolerance to handling made a big difference when the last baby was born. We were able to place the baby right where it needed to be to nurse because of the level of trust we had built up with her.

Dante, as I mentioned, is a little more nervous about all this touchy-feely stuff. We’re working toward a voluntary echocardiogram with him, but for our safety we have trained him to sit up and hold onto a heavy board that remains between us. He’s also received “man training” to make him more tolerant of men, whom he associates with the sound of power tools. All the keepers in our unit are women, so the only time he would hear men’s voices was when craftsmen would come to fix something, and all the banging and the drills frightened him. He blamed the men. Anyway, soothing words and plenty of treats has helped a lot.

OA: How many giant anteaters have been born at the National Zoo?

MM: Dante and Maripi are the only anteaters to have successfully bred here in Washington. The male pup born in December is their third baby together. The first was a female named Aurora, who is now at ZooParc du Beauval in France. Next came a male named Cyrano, who is now at the Nashville Zoo. The new baby [pictured below] will be with Maripi for at least 10-12 more months.

OA: You had a scare with the most recent pup. Can you describe what happened and how he’s doing now?

MM: Scare is right! There is a detailed description on the zoo’s website, but briefly: After what appeared to be a normal birth, one night we found the baby outside the sleeping crate in the morning. He was cold and unresponsive. Immediate steps were taken to start to warm him up and to transport both him and his mother to the Vet hospital. He was reintroduced to his mom, and she has been taking care of him ever since, with very little assistance from us. It turned out that the camera that was supposed to be recording activity overnight was on the fritz, so we’ll never know for sure what caused this to happen. But both Maripi and the baby are back at the anteater barn and doing very well. His weight is on a level with the other babies we have had here and he seems normal in every respect. He is the quietest anteater baby we’ve had and almost never alarm calls.

OA: When do you think the pup will be able to go outside and meet the public?

MM: As soon as we get some warm weather. I was hoping that after an unusually cold December we might be treated to a mild January, but so far no luck.

OA: What is the best part about your job as an anteater keeper?

MM: I’d have to say the level of trust that I mentioned earlier. Our unit also cares for tigers, bears, and lions, as well as several other smaller species. They are all wonderful, but being able to work so closely with the anteaters is really special.

OA: Do you have any tips for someone who might be interested in a career working with captive animals—anteater or otherwise?

MM: Get as much hands-on experience as possible. Most of the job is just that—a job. There is hosing and cleaning and food prep, and you work holidays and weekends, sometimes in terrible weather conditions, and that is 95 percent of the job. If the other 5 percent, the part that takes your breath away, makes you forget the not-so-glamorous part, then I say “Go for it!” But you might want to find out first by volunteering.

OA: Last question: What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you relating to giant anteaters?

MM: Well, one day when giving Maripi a bath—she loves baths and you can see her on the National Zoo’s YouTube page—she farted and blew bubbles in her bath water. That’s the kind of sophisticated humor we go in for around here. •>~

January 9, 2011

two new zoo pups

It's always nice to hear about new giant anteaters entering the world. In the past month, officials have announced not one but two new pups in major U.S. zoos! The first newbie (top), who made his debut on December 7th, is a resident of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Check back here for more on him very soon! The second (bottom), whose gender has not yet been made public, was born 15 days later, on December 22nd, at the San Francisco Zoo in California. One thing's for sure: They may be 3,000 miles apart, but these little guys certainly share a common cute factor! •>~

Update: Hey, cool! Just got word of a third anteater pup to have been born in the last few weeks. This birth took place on December 23rd, at the Parken Zoo in Sweden! Fun fact: He's the first giant anteater to have ever been born in that country. Oh, but contrary to what they say in the video below, I don't think he'll be eating ants in captivity. Anyway, welcome to the world, little guy!

January 8, 2011

a new year!

Happy 2011 to all you giant anteater lovers out there. I've got some fun stuff in store for the coming months, so watch this space! For now, enjoy this mosaic anteater that I found as part of an e-card campaign by the World Land Trust. You, too, can send this little fella to all your friends! •>~

August 8, 2010

just say awww

It's easier than ever to find photos of anteaters online. If you haven't yet tried out the new Google images interface, definitely do a search on there; you'll be astounded at the variety of shots from around the world for both adults and baby giant anteaters!

And if it's baby anteater mugs that you seek, I've got two additional sites for you: Zooborns' anteater list and this young anteater photo list from BuzzFeed. Note that these lists both include tamanduas, which—let's face it—are mighty cute as well! •>~

August 1, 2010

pilgrimage to anteater central

Last month I took a trip out to Los Angeles for the first time in several years. I was visiting a good friend for the Fourth of July weekend, but on my first day there she had to work, so I knew I'd have some time on my hands. After making my way from the airport to her office on the UCLA campus, I asked to borrow her car. I decided not to tell her right away what I was going to do with it; I worried she'd try to put the fear of LA traffic into me and insist that it was impossible. But I was not to be deterred!

It was not my first experience with LA's horrible, horrible freeways, but it was the first time I would brave them during rush hour. The day before a holiday weekend. And, as I had to meet my friend at a certain hour back at her office, under a time crunch. Right.

Of course by now you've guessed my destination, no? It was none other than the mecca of all things giant anteater: the University of California at Irvine, about 40 miles south of UCLA. I had for many, many years wanted to make a pilgrimage to the campus of the only college in the world whose mascot is my favorite animal. And now I was getting my chance! In case you're unfamiliar with the legacy of UCI's Peter the Anteater, by the way, I urge you to check it out. It. Is. Awesome.

Traffic indeed sucked, so it was a real crawl to Irvine. This left me with but an hour to take in all I could see before turning around and braving the reverse commute back into the heart of LA. Turning onto the main campus drive, the first thing I noticed was giant anteaters on the street signs! Very cool. I parked and tried to find my bearings. After a brief stop in the visitor center I meandered around that corner of what turned out to be a huge campus. Signs of anteater life were everywhere—on walkways, on signs, in the form of statues both whimsical and stately, even on vending machines! I tried to find the main athletic arena, where surely Eater nation would be on full display, but students I met kept telling me it wasn't in walking distance, and I didn't have time to drive. So, with the minutes slipping by at an unbelievable pace, I ducked into the school store to purchase a few anteater knick-knacks before reluctantly turning back toward UCI's cousin to the north.

Fortunately, traffic was kinder to me on the return, and my friend could only laugh when I told her that I'd spent my afternoon in search of a certain mammal with a large fuzzy snout. Whatever. She knows me well enough to know that this crazy obsession isn't going away anytime soon! Of course, someday, when I have a little more flexibility in my schedule, I'll have to make it back for a real visit. But if I die tomorrow, I can at least say that I've stepped foot in the land of the Anteaters. Zot! •>~

July 31, 2010

chasing anteaters

It's summertime in the Northern Hemisphere, which for many of you means vacation! And what better time to visit a friendly giant anteater—or three? To find the anteaters on view nearest you (or your travel destination) check out the ISIS's handy dandy listing of all giant anteater holdings around the world. Note that not all the anteaters in a given zoo or wildlife park are on permanent display, but you can generally assume at least one or two are out and about, ready to greet visitors.

But why stop at captive critters? A fascinating article in The New York Times earlier this year described a fantastic trip idea: journey to Guyana in South America to seek out giant anteaters in their natural habitat! Tours can be a bit pricey, but oh, to catch sight of the fluff on an anteater's tail as she hunts for breakfast in a wild savannah! If you're interested in learning more, Guyana's tourism board hosts a helpful website devoted to nature travels, with a specific guide to scoping out wild giant anteaters while visiting that country. Consider it officially on my bucket list! •>~

September 26, 2009

dalí's anteater? surreal!

I was stunned this week to stumble upon a very amusing and very awesome photograph of famed artist Salvador Dalí. The photo, which dates from 1969, depicts the 65-year-old Catalan surrealist emerging from a Paris subway station led by his trusty giant anteater. Of course, I had to do a little digging to find out more...

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Dalí, you should just know that he was a very creative, imaginative, and some might even say strange guy. His affection for anteaters supposedly came about as a reaction to fellow surrealist André Breton, who was known as "le tamanoir" ("the anteater") among the other surrealists of the day. Several decades after the publication of Breton's poem, "After the Giant Anteater," Dalí began sketching anteater-like figures. He dedicated one of these to Breton, and it was made into a series of bookplates, which Breton affixed to the inside of a number of books in his library. That particular sketch, seen below, is known as "The Anteater." Incidentally, if you've got an extra $1,500 lying around, you can buy yourself one of Breton's old bookplates bearing the same design!

But Dalí's anteater shenanigans didn't end there. He is also remembered for having gone onto the Dick Cavett show (kind of like David Letterman or Conan O'Brien today) on March 6, 1970 carrying a small anteater onstage. It's impossible to say without seeing the episode whether it was a giant anteater or a smaller tamandua—sadly, I haven't been able to track the clip down. Regardless, the story goes that as Dalí made his way toward his seat next to Cavett, he surprised fellow guest Lillian Gish, a well-respected star of silent films, by flinging the anteater onto her lap! As you can probably guess, she was not amused. But everyone else in the audience sure was! •>~

September 14, 2009

going it alone

As you may be aware, giant anteaters are solitary creatures for most of their lives. Aside from brief encounters with mates, the one big exception to an anteater's single life is during its formative years, when a young giant anteater lives with its mother. Anteaterlings generally ride on their moms' backs for up to a full year before even thinking about venturing out on their own. During this time, mothers provide their young with food, protection, and guidance.

So what happens when a mother abandons her baby? The scenario is relatively rare, but it does occasionally occur. In the wild, the baby could die, especially if it's particularly young and inexperienced in looking for food. But zookeepers are certainly not going to let an anteater baby perish under their watch! So in the rare instances when a captive mother rejects her baby, humans take turns caring day and night for the youngster until it's old enough to be left on its own.

The following video tells the heartwarming story of Olive (also pictured above), a giant anteater born at the Houston Zoo last year and hand-reared by members of the zoo staff. Check it out! •>~

August 21, 2009

a visit to nashville

As of this summer, there were just over 100 giant anteaters living in captivity in 43 zoos and nature parks in the United States. In early August, I had the pleasure of visiting the largest collection of giant anteaters in the United States—and the second largest in the world—at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere.

In its present location, the Nashville Zoo is only 12 years old, yet it has clearly committed to the study and care of giant anteaters. They currently have five males and six females, including a three-month old baby. They also have another little one on the way, as one of the females is set to give birth this fall.

As zoo representative Jim Bartoo whisked me by golf cart through the winding, wooded back areas of the facility, he explained that in addition to resident zoo keepers, the anteaters are visited and studied by veterinarians and doctoral students in animal husbandry. I knew we were getting close to the anteater housing facility, which is kept separate from the main zoo, when I spied an "Anteaters at Play" yield sign. The anteater area was surrounded by a grass-covered fence that shields the noise and spectacle of carts and cars whizzing past. Apparently giant anteaters are easy to startle!

At the habitat entrance was a sign asking visitors to put on a mask if they had flu symptoms. As I had found out shortly before my trip, the Nashville Zoo was the site of a recent discovery about a strain of flu related to the one that has been in the news this year. Specifically, the zoo's giant anteaters were found to have gotten sick with the a strain of H1N1 influenza that also affected humans. I'll be doing another blog post on this soon, but suffice it to say, all precautions were taken to ensure that no visitors passed an illness to the anteaters inside!

We were greeted by head anteater keeper Dawn Rouse, who escorted us inside and proceeded to tell us all about her charges. Most anteaters had a small room to themselves and a door to the outside enclosure. They were free to come and go as they pleased between their room and outside area. Many of the anteaters stuck their snouts through the bars to greet us, and we offered the backs of our hands for them to sniff. There was one room that contained a male and female, who actually mated while we were there! Across the way there was also a mother, Tiana, and her three-month-old baby, Pana, who was riding her mom's back, as baby giant anteaters are wont to do.

I talked with Dawn at some length about this instinct of babies to crawl onto their mothers' backs—in particular, about the uncanny ability of baby anteaters to sit on the exact spot so that the dark stripe on both mother and baby line up perfectly. She told me that there are no definitive answers just yet as to how this happens, but various possibilities, from visual to scent cues, are being considered. Dawn also showed me this adorable video of Pana's very first attempt to climb onto her mom's back!

Next came a discussion about the anteaters' diet. Jim mentioned that one student working with Nashville's anteaters has been investigating how a lack of chitin, a hard substance that wild anteaters regularly digest when they process ant and termite exoskeletons, affects the digestion of anteaters living in captivity. The main food that the Nashville anteaters chow on is a mix of two types of meal, one traditionally fed to primates and the other traditionally fed to felines. They're treated with water and mashed up to make squishy pellets, which get doled out in precise amounts to each of the zoo's giant anteaters.

Aside from this high-protein meal, the anteaters also get occasional treats, like the blueberry yogurt that Dawn fed one of the males while I was there. It was both hilarious and exhilarating to see him lap the yogurt up, as I'd never really internalized how long, bendy, and agile giant anteaters' tongues are!

I eventually said goodbye to Dawn and the anteater center, and Jim took me on a quick tour of the rest of the zoo so that we could see the two giant anteaters on display for the general public. These anteaters live outside in a nice wooded enclosure with some cool spots in which to hang out away from the hot sun. They also have heated shelters under which they can take refuge on cooler days. I learned that it was one of the anteaters living here, a female named Priam, who is due to have a baby next month! When we stopped by, one of the two—we couldn't tell which—was taking a stroll, and made a few of the visitors happy (myself included, of course!) by posing for a snapshot.

And that was my visit! I want to thank Dawn Rouse and Jim Bartoo for hosting me and teaching me more about these fascinating creatures. I also want to encourage readers to visit the Nashville Zoo if you get a chance because it's absolutely lovely. Much of the land was originally natural woods, so the feeling you get is truly one of being out in nature among animals in what feels very close to their natural habitat—not something you can say for every zoo out there. Until next time! •>~

July 16, 2009

you can't take it home, but...

As mentioned in a recent post, giant anteaters don't make good house pets. However, that doesn't mean you can't adopt one! Many zoos have programs that allow you to "adopt" the animal of your choice. They do this as a way to raise funds to help keep their animals well cared for and to help adopters feel closer to their favorite zoo inhabitants!

I won't list every location from which you can adopt a giant anteater, but I encourage you to seek out your local zoo to find out if they offer anteater adoptions. (To find out if your local zoo or animal park even has a giant anteater, check out this species holding list.) Zoo animal adoption can be a unique gift, and a nice way to support your local animals to boot! Alternately, you can adopt a giant anteater from the World Wildlife Fund, an organization that focuses on supporting global wildlife and natural resources. You'll even get a plush anteater doll like the one pictured in the inset if you adopt at the $50 level or higher! •>~

June 19, 2009

adolpho, the cuddler

Okay, this is probably the cutest thing I've ever seen when it comes to giant anteaters. Adorable!! This little guy's name is Adolpho, and he lives at the Berlin Zoo.

Incidentally, I should mention that although giant anteaters are generally docile animals, they can be very dangerous—and even deadly—because of their very long and very sharp claws. As a result, giant anteaters are not kept as pets. (If you've seen an anteater dressed in human clothes and kept as a pet, that's probably one of the much smaller tamandua anteaters owned by Tamandua Girl.) The giant anteater here, Adolpho, was still only a few months old when this video was made. But as cute as he is, just know that you can't go out and buy these guys as pets. Anyway, if you'd like to see more, here is a photo gallery of Adolpho as a youngster! •>~

fun threadless tee

This cute t-shirt design caught my eye, so I thought I'd share! If you are not familiar with, they give graphic artists a platform to exhibit and get feedback on pieces that they'd like to sell on t-shirts. The result is a lot of very creative shirt ideas! If enough people vote on a design, the good people at Threadless print a bunch and then the public can purchase them. I voted on this one, called "Anthill trap," and it was eventually made into a t-shirt. Awesome! •>~

June 18, 2009

meet cyrano

On March 12th, a new baby anteater was born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.! This was only the second giant anteater birth in the zoo's history. Shortly after mom Maripi and the baby had time to bond, zoo biologists were able to get close enough to determine that the little one was a boy! He was named Cyrano after the famed literary character Cyrano de Bergerac, who has a very, very long nose! Cyrano has grown quite steadily in the few months of his young life. Baby giant anteaters spend lots of time riding around on their mom's back, and little Cyrano seems to have gotten the hang of it pretty quickly. Below, National Zoo biologist Marie Magnuson talks about the zoo's newest resident! •>~

we begin!

Welcome to the new Online Anteater blog. This blog will be a companion to The Online Anteater, an educational website about giant anteaters. Web technology has changed a lot in the years since I first started The Online Anteater, and it's been great seeing how the site's usership has grown over time. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to update the site and add new features as often as I'd have liked, so this blog will offer more immediate news and features on that lovable creature, Myrmecophaga tridactyla. Check back here for regular updates on cute anteater babies, videos, and other news. Please leave comments if you'd like to share something with the rest of the anteater-loving community! •>~