Giant anteaters go for a nosey around ZSL London Zoo
Monday 21 July 2008
ZSL London Zoo’s giant anteaters are going on a nosey walkabout - just in time for the summer holidays.
Boyfriend and girlfriend, Bonito and Sauna, who sleep for around 18 hours a day, will now go for a stroll every weekday at 5pm.
Visitors can watch the two 11-year-olds tuck into their favourite food a pureed mix that accurately mimics all the nutritional properties of an ant and termite diet.
In the wild giant anteaters rip open ant nests and termite mounds using their long claws. Their tongue can reach 60cm and is covered in spines and thick sticky saliva which is ideal for catching their prey. Anteaters can stick up to 30,000 ants a day on to their tongues.
The animals who are classified as vulnerable on the IUCN redlist can be found in the grasslands and swamps of Central and South America.
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Notes to editors
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. The Society runs ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in some 45 countries worldwide.
The anteaters’ diet at London Zoo is a pureed food mix that accurately mimics all the nutritional properties of an ant and termite diet. This mixture is worked out using a sophisticated computer programme called Zootrition and allows keepers to ensure the anteaters get all the nutrients they need. This is done because it is logistically impossible to provide the 90,000 ants or termites needed each day for the two anteaters. Giant anteaters are classified as vulnerable on the IUCN redlist of endangered species because of habitat loss and hunting. They have relatively poor hearing and vision, but they have an incredible sense of smell (40 times more sensitive than humans do).
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