Belfast Zoo
Show Menu
Show Search

Belfast Zoo ‘nose’ the name of the baby giant anteater

Date: 08 Jun 2016

Giant anteater

Earlier this year, we announced the birth of a baby giant anteater and asked for everyone’s help to name the special arrival.

We received almost 400 votes and the name 'Zira' was selected for a girl and 'Dante' was selected for a boy.

Zoo curator, Alyn Cairns, said “The baby giant anteater was born on 22 December to parents, Pancho and Kara. Kara is a fantastic mum and for the first six months, she has been carrying the baby on her back. In the wild this acts as camouflage from predators but it also made it difficult for the team to find out whether the infant was male or female, as we didn’t want to disrupt mother and baby. In recent weeks, the baby has become more independent and we finally got the chance to find out the gender of the youngster. We are delighted to announce that the baby giant anteater is a girl and has therefore been named 'Zira'."

We would like to thank everyone for helping us select the name.

The giant anteater is an endangered South American mammal. As the name suggests, the giant anteater is the world’s biggest anteater species and can grow up to seven feet in length. Giant anteaters are unquestionably an unusual looking species. They have a long snout, long hair, a large bushy tail and a long tongue which is approximately 50 centimetres in length. They use their tongue to mop up insects and can eat up to 30,000 insects in a single day. 

In Central and South America they live in the grasslands and rainforests and, while this species was once widespread, today their numbers vary drastically between countries. They are considered one of the most threatened mammals in central America. In fact in Brazil, there are serious concerns because, in some areas where they once roamed, there are now none left. Giant anteater populations have declined by 30% between 2000 and 2010 demonstrating how vulnerable the species is.

Alyn Cairns continues, “Belfast Zoo takes part in more than 90 global and collaborative breeding programmes to ensure the future survival of species facing increasing threats in their natural habitat. There are only 200 giant anteaters living in zoos around the world, as part of the breeding programme and Kara and Pancho are the only breeding pair in Ireland. Our giant anteaters live with other south American species and we have said 'hola' to a number of new arrivals this year with the birth of seven capybaras and ten Darwin’s rhea chicks."

Find out more about giant anteaters.

Adopt your favourite animal at Belfast Zoo.