Big news: Our new baby tamandua is a girl, and her name is Chiquita! And since her weight was low at birth and she was slow to gain weight despite nursing, she’s getting extra veterinary and keeper care around the clock to help her grow and thrive.
“She’s doing very well,” said head veterinarian Dr. Karen Wolf, who determined Chiquita’s sex and is examining her regularly. “We are cautiously optimistic. A lot of time and effort has gone into her care, but she is active and mom Terra is taking good care of her.”
A team of Zoo moms
The new pup, born August 18, may even have been born premature. (Tamanduas have a wide range of gestation length, which makes it tricky to establish a due date.) Now 16 days old, she weighs nearly 13 ounces.
To help her get the nutrition she needs, Chiquita has had a team of veterinarian and keeper “moms” giving her extra feeds every four hours, transitioning from tube to bottle. Now, keepers are bottle-feeding her six times every 24-hour day.
She also had surgery to resolve an umbilical hernia (a condition in newborns where part of the intestine comes through the umbilical gap in the abdominal muscle wall). The pup recovered well from the surgery, and was quickly returned to her mom.
“She will likely be getting maternal care from both zoo staff and Terra for quite some time,” Wolf predicts. But, she adds, Chiquita now has a nice fur coat, and is very bright and interactive.
Clinging on strongly
Already, though, the baby tamandua is doing her most important job: holding tight to mom. In their native forests in South America, Southern tamandua pups need to cling to their mother’s back as she forages through the trees for insects to eat. Chiquita is doing exactly that whenever her mom Terra wanders around their behind-the-scenes living area.
Stay tuned for more Chiquita updates as she grows.