Zoo welcomes new arrival

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Baby ant-eater © Chester Zoo

Baby ant-eater © Chester Zoo

Staff at Chester Zoo were said to be “delighted” after a successful conservation program resulted in a rare baby giant anteater being born.

The tiny pup, which was born on December 23, is only the second such species to arrive at the zoo since adult anteaters were brought to Chester as part of an international breeding programme in 2010.

Considered ‘vulnerable to extinction’, conservationists feel that the birth is great news for the species and that the work being done by Chester Zoo could help halt the decline in numbers.

Giant Anteaters hail from South and Central America but their numbers have been in free-fall for many years, largely due to deforestation and the fact that they are regarded as pests by farmers.

The sex of the baby cannot be determined yet as the infant clings tightly to its mother’s back and zookeepers are simply not able to get close enough to it.

Conservation team manager, David White said: “Bliss, (the mother) is doing an excellent job of looking after her new arrival.

“Seeing the youngster cling to her tail is quite a sight.”

The habitat created for the anteaters at the award-winning zoo is as close as possible to the natural environment in which they live and it is hoped that this new must-see attraction will generate a  large number of visitors.

Board member John Iles said: “The success of our breeding programs are crucial both for the species and for the financial side of things. These animals draw huge crowds and the money generated means that we can continue our conservation efforts.”

Amanda York, a visitor to the Zoo said: “I’ve been coming here for years. The work that they do is brilliant and the enclosures are so large and well maintained, as for the anteater, it’s a funny little thing, but very cute.”

About Scott Rumsey, JMU Journalism