MANY OF US... have our first experience with anteaters, or at least see our first visuals, not in person but via a cartoon. There are good reasons for this, starting with the anteater's rather remarkable proboscis.
The image of him comically vacuuming up ants is also the stuff of lively animation, and it is something many a kid remembers for always. So seeing an anteater in person can be... just as fantastic. Because the animators of yore didn't stray very far from the real animal, at least in appearance. In action? Well, the mammals actually gather ants via their tongue, and not a magical suction device deep inside their long noses -- sorry, cartoons -- but they're just as wonderfully shaped and lopey and amazing to watch. Noses play important roles in the digging for insects; we don't want to downplay the anteater's most beloved feature. But here's a question to ponder: Do anteaters grow into their proboscis or are they born with a marvelously lengthy appendage? There's one way to know rather quickly: Admire a baby anteater.
THE SANTA BARBARA ZOO... just happens to have one. He's a giant anteater, to be accurate and specific. The bouncing 3.5-pounder-at-birth was born on March 1, and he's a twin (the female twin did not survive). Interestingly the young lad's mother was also a twin, and the zoo calls the birth a rare one, given that anteater twins don't come along all that often. The prognosis for the cub? "Good" but "guarded." He's being hand-raised, and will not be on public view for months to come. But photos have been released and they're mighty full of awww. And, yep: His famous anteater ant digger is on the large size, indeed.
WANT TO KEEP TABS? The zoo is a major player in giant anteater conservation, so they'll help the baby's new fans stay up on his growth, milestones, and when they can have a first peek in person. Follow along at the Santa Barbara Zoo site.