ZSL London Zoo’s tamandua family doubled this year after female Ria welcomed the arrival of two new babies. Firstborn Poco arrived seven months ago, followed last month by baby Paco.
However, far from finding the pair a handful, mum Ria has had plenty of help with her latest offspring. Proud big brother Poco has been helping out by carefully carrying his new sibling around the Rainforest Life home they share with two-toed sloths Marilyn, Leander and baby Lento, Emperor tamarins, red titi monkeys and fruit bats.
Part of the anteater family, tamanduas are native to South America and impressive climbers. Keepers won’t know the youngster’s sex until it is scanned by vets, as the baby will stick close to the family until around six-months-old.
“Ria must have fallen pregnant just weeks after giving birth to Poco,” says ZSL keeper Steve Goodwin.
“We suspected Ria was pregnant again, so we were keeping a close eye on her. When I peered into their nestbox that morning I saw the whole family nestled together, with the newborn already snuggling into the soft fur on Poco’s back – he’s clearly taken his big brother duties very seriously, as they’ve been inseparable ever since.”
Not a lot is known about tamandua group dynamics in the wild, as the species are nocturnal and spend most of their lives high up in the tree canopy of their rainforest homes.The heartwarming relationship between the tamandua twosome is one that keepers are closely monitoring, so that information about the unusual bond can be shared with other zoos around the world.
“Tamanduas are usually seen as solitary animals, with the females carrying their offspring on their backs for the first three months of their life, so Poco’s close relationship with one-month-old Paco is definitely something we can all learn from.”
While Ria has definitely had a little help this time around, she remains a devoted mum to both of her youngsters: “If Paco ever begins to cry on Poco’s back, she doesn’t just take the little one off him to soothe them: she carries them both until he settles down, which means Paco is on Poco, who is on mum. The tower of tamanduas is quite a sight!”
To find out more about visiting ZSL London Zoo go to www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo