More Company for the Soup-Dragon!
Thursday 24 July 2003
London Zoo celebrates the birth of its first baby tamandua
London Zoo is delighted to announce the birth of a baby tamandua (tamandua tetradactyla) in the small mammal house. The new arrival, which looks like a black and white Clanger, was born on 16th May but has not been on view to the public until now, this time has allowed the mother settle into life as a new parent. Tamanduas are found in the forests of Central and South America and are endangered as a result of habitat destruction and poaching.
Tamanduas are from the same family as anteaters (Myrmecophagidae); this is why they are sometimes referred to as tree anteaters. They are blonde with a black 'vested' area from their shoulders to their rump; they have four clawed digits on their front feet and five on their hind. Their claws are very long and sharp and their forelimbs are remarkably strong, making the animals very adept at climbing through the forest canopy.
Tamanduas typically have only one baby and Utalina was no exception, the new arrival has not yet been sexed as, like all tamandua babies, it is currently being carried on mum's back. Once the baby gets more independent keepers in the small mammal house will be able determine its sex. The new tamandua is currently feeding from its mother and will not leave her until it is fully weaned at about 14 weeks.
Tamanduas have prehensile tails; this means that they are perfect for grasping objects, proving a safety harness for the animal when it is climbing through thin branches. They also have very long tongues, approximately 40cms, amazing in an animal whose body length is less than double this. Tamanduas use their tongues to lick up marching insects such as ants and termites and can eat up to 9,000 insects a day!
Frank Wheeler, Specialist Small Mammal Keeper at London Zoo, said, "This is the first baby tamandua we have ever had at London Zoo, which makes the new arrival very special for us. We are very proud to be working to ensure the continued survival of this animal and are looking forward to breeding more tamanduas at London Zoo."
Notes to editors:
- Tamanduas are listed on CITES Appendix II
- An adult tamandua is approximately 70cms from the tip of its snout to the end of its tail
- The average gestation period for a tamandua is approximately 150 days
- 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. ZSL runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation worldwide.
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