A new arrival from a French zoo has landed at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in the shape of giant anteater Tammy. The three-year-old female has been busy sniffing out food in bug-infested woodpiles after arriving from Zoo de la Barben, in Provence. Giant anteaters, can consume around 35,000 insects a day with their 60cm long tongues, are on the IUCN’s list of vulnerable species with only 5,000 left in the wild.
The mammals’ numbers are declining rapidly because of habitat loss and hunting in their native scrublands and rainforests of Central and South America.
Tammy will be a potential mate to Niki who has been at the park for 3 years as part of an international breeding programme.
“Tammy has been exploring her new reserve, foraging around in the woodpiles for insects we have spread out for her to help her settle in,” said Gemma Challis, an animal ranger at the park at Branton, near Doncaster.
“She is here as part of the breeding programme but we are taking things slowly and they have yet to go on their first date. But we hope that they will hit it off and breed in the future.”
Anteaters have a sharp sense of smell with their distinctive snout and have powerful claws to dig out ant and termite nests but they have no teeth so rely on a 60cm long tongue with extra sticky saliva to capture insects.
As it is quite difficult to source 35,000 ants every day, Tammy will be fed a substitute paste developed especially for anteaters. The anteaters also enjoy treats of avocado smoothies.
“Tammy’s journey from France went extremely well and we are delighted to welcome her as a new addition to our anteater family,” said Debbie Porter, Animal Manager.
“Anteaters are mostly nocturnal but they do come out in the day so there will be plenty of chances for our visitors to see Tammy. Most people would recognize a picture of an anteater but very few have ever seen one and are fascinated when they see one in real life’.
YWP, which opened in 2009, is the UK’s No. 1 walkthrough wildlife adventure and is home to some of the world’s most endangered and beautiful animals, including Amur leopards and tigers, giant otters and polar bears. It is a major force in animal conservation and welfare and supports projects around the world that are protecting at risk species.