Giant anteater Anara at the Santa Barbara Zoo recently welcomed a baby son — Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Zoo
Congratulations, Santa Barbara - it's a boy!
The New Baby Anteater
The Santa Barbara Zoo welcomed their first baby giant anteater since 2006 this spring. Anara, the zoo's adult female, gave birth on March 1, 2014.
The male pup weighed in at approximately 3.5 pounds and has been growing steadily since. Although he's not on exhibit just yet, the zoo expects to introduce him to his adoring fans soon.
The long-nosed baby is the first offspring for the zoo’s adult pair, Anara and Ridley. Ridley, the dad, was brought in from a zoo in Germany as part of a cooperative breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to bring new genetics to North America.
The new baby giant anteater — Photo courtesy of Sheri Horiszny / Santa Barbara Zoo
This is far from Santa Barbara's first experience with baby giant anteaters. Twenty-six giant anteaters have been born here since 1975, helping the zoo to become a nationwide leader in the study of these unusual mammals.
Giant Anteaters: Just the FAQs
Where are giant anteaters from?
Giant anteaters originally hale from Central and South America, but their wild population has decreased and even disappeared from some countries in recent years. That makes the AZA breeding program at the Santa Barbara Zoo extra important.
Do they really eat ants?
They do! In fact, giant anteaters don't have teeth. They use their powerful sense of smell and very long, thin tongue to hunt and eat ants, grubs and termites. An anteater can eat up to 35,000 ants in a single day.
How big do they get?
A little bigger than your average dog. This baby giant anteater will probably grow to weigh between 40 and 85 pounds and be three or four feet long - with a two or three foot tail.
Can I keep an anteater as a pet?
No. Although they are quite adorable in their own weird way, giant anteaters do not make good pets. But you can keep ants as pets, if you really want to.
About the Santa Barbara Zoo
Home to over 500 animals spread across 30 beautifully landscaped acres, the zoo is open every day, including on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Visitors can park in their lot for a small fee or find nearby street parking. Another fun option is to hop on the electric shuttle that runs along the waterfront and drops off at the zoo.
There is a grassy park across the street, and family-friendly East Beach is just one block away. Visit the Santa Barbara Zoo website to learn about behind-the-scenes passes and tours for individuals and families.