London Zoo’s new tamandua pair wasted no time starting a family
After Tobi the male southern tamandua arrived at London Zoo last October, a whirlwind romance began. Tobi hit it off with resident female Ria almost immediately because, just five months later, she emerged from her nest box with a baby on her back.
Keepers had noticed Ria’s weight gain and were excited to welcome the little anteater, but they were surprised at just how soon the new arrival – nicki-named Poco – made an appearance.
ZSL keeper Steve Goodwin said: “Ria went into her nest box that morning, which isn’t unusual as tamanduas are nocturnal animals and often nap during the day. But at around 5pm, as the sun began to set, she amazed us all when she came outside for her evening explorations with a tiny newborn holding onto her fur.”
With a quick bit of maths, they worked out that Ria must have become pregnant the week Tobi moved in. Since its birth over the Easter weekend, Poco has mostly stayed close to its mother, either clinging tightly to her fur or tucked safely away in a hollow log. At two months old, the tiny tamandua has begun to explore the Rainforest Life area at the zoo, shared with monkeys, bats and sloths.
Steve said: “We set up a camera to keep a close eye on the pair, as they’re most active at night: we’ve been delighted to see the youngster peeking its head out of the tree stump at after dark, and now Ria is confident enough to carry her around the exhibit visitors will be able to spot the pair – especially at our Zoo Nights events this summer.”
Wild southern tamanduas walk and climb through the forests of South America, using their strong claws and long tongues to extract termites, ants and bees from their nests. They’re not considered to be at risk, but people sometimes hunt them for food or catch them to sell as pets. Young remain with their mothers for six months, so it will be a while before vets can get close enough to give Poco a health check and find out whether Ria and Tobi have a son or a daughter.
Photos: ZSL London Zoo