A giant baby anteater born at ZSL London Zoo last month has made its first public appearance.
The six-week-old pup, born during last month’s storm Aileen, arrived with a bright white stripe down its back, much like a streak of lightening. Now, mum Inca has taken her new born outside for the first time, introducing the youngster to its home next to the zoo’s giraffes.
ZSL (Zoological Society of London) London Zookeeper, Amy Heath said: “I was delighted to see a healthy pup snuggled up to mum Inca, having a quiet feed in the cosy indoor den one morning.
“The tiny youngster immediately climbed up onto mum Inca’s back after finishing its first breakfast – settling into the perfect position to be carried around.
“The first thing I noticed was the rare white markings down the baby’s back, which look like a lightning strike: pups usually have grey markings so this baby is definitely special. It’s an amazing coincidence that a baby born during such a dark and stormy night has got such unique colourings to mark the occasion.”
Anteater pups spend the first three months clinging to their mother’s backs, sliding down to feed before pulling themselves back up again. They have fantastic camouflage as their distinguishable matching patterns align to create one continuous stripe, allowing the young pup to avoid the eyes of predators while on their mum’s backs.
The youngster will be given a name once keepers find out the pup’s sex during its first vet check at around three-months-old. Taking inspiration from mum Inca’s Spanish birthplace of Madrid Zoo, keepers will choose either Raya meaning ‘stripe’ if it’s a girl, or Trueno, meaning ‘storm’ if it’s a boy.
The new arrival weighs in at around a kilo now, but will grow quickly into a full sized adult reaching approximately 7ft in length and weighing as much as 45kg. In the meantime the infant will happily hitch a ride to stay close to mum, letting her do all the work while sleeping up to 15 hours a day.
The stripy baby will soon be introduced to the rest of the giant anteater family at ZSL London Zoo, learning the ropes from big sister Beanie – born to same parents Inca and Bonito earlier this year.