Hidden camera captures birth of rare giant anteater at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo has captured the birth of a rare giant anteater - the third of its kind to be born at the zoo in 92 years.

The youngster, who is yet-to-be-named, climbed onto its mum just a few moments after entering the world.

According to experts, which measures around 60cm, pup will now cling onto its mum's back for the next 10 months.

The pup will latch onto mum with its matching stripe on its fur which keeps it hidden and camouflaged until they are confident to walk, explore and search for food independently.

The baby anteater, who was born to Bliss ,13, and Oso, 9, is the result of a breeding programme created to protect endangered and species at risk.

Giant anteaters are listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Credit: Chester Zoo

Manager in charge of caring for giant anteaters at the zoo David White, said:“Mum Bliss is so far doing an excellent job of looking after her new arrival and seeing the baby clinging on tightly to her back is a really special sight."He continued: “With giant anteaters being vulnerable to extinction the birth is incredibly positive news for the species.

"It’s a boost to the safety net population being cared for in conservation zoos like ours, while we’re continuing to learn more about them and, at the same time, create more awareness of the majesty of the species.”

Here are some facts about giant anteaters you might not know:

  • Giant anteaters feed mostly on tiny insects and can devour up to 30,000 ants or termites in a day -this diet means they don’t have any teeth

  • They use their sticky tongues to feed – these can reach two metres in length and can extend and withdraw at up to 150 times per minute

  • Baby giant anteater's feed from their mum’s milk for around 10 months as its matching fur helps keep it camouflaged, while also making mum look bigger and therefore more off-putting to would-be predators

  • Giant anteater's are native to Central and South America and are threatened in both regions. In some areas of Brazil, where they once roamed freely, there are now none remaining

Baby giant anteater resting on its mother's back. Credit: Chester Zoo

Research supported by conservationists at the zoo now also points to another major factor in the demise of giant anteaters – road deaths.Paul Bamford, the zoo’s Field Conservation Manager for South and Central America, said:“Very few long-term studies of giant anteaters have ever been carried out by the global conservation community, meaning it’s challenging to implement effective conservation actions for these unique-looking animals.

"It’s not easy to protect a species without an in-depth understanding of what’s happening to them.

“However, we’re working with our partners in Brazil, the Wild Animal Conservation Institute (ICAS), to carry out vital research to redress this - by assessing the impact of road deaths on giant anteaters over thousands of miles of roads.

"Such high numbers of collisions with motorists have been recorded that it’s now believed to be one of the main threats to the species after habitat loss.“GPS collars fitted to giant anteaters are giving us an insight on when and how they cross roads so that hotspots can be identified and strategies can be put in place to help reduce the high numbers of anteaters falling victim to collisions.

“Working together with motorists to understand perceptions and attitudes towards the species is also critical for developing effective protection measures, such as tailored road signs, to minimize collisions and the associated risks to both people and anteaters.

“This field work, coupled with our care and conservation breeding of giant anteaters at the zoo, is critical to understanding more about this wonderful animal and protecting future generations.”