Two firsts for the Zoological Society in 1998 had staff excited about the newcomers, and had some visitors wondering what they were looking at!
On August 13, the Society’s first birth of a southern tamandua, or lesser anteater, took place at the Wild Animal Park. Visitors were able to see the baby’s first few hours and watch as she climbed up onto mom’s back, which is how young tamanduas get around. The youngster’s father arrived at the Park in October 1997, by all reports a mellow guy that was easy for keepers to handle. The mother arrived in January 1998—and she was hissing, growling, and slashing with her front claws from the start. She showed the male the same behavior when they were introduced, but apparently he had seen it all before—he just curled up in the tree and went to sleep. That wasn’t the reaction she was probably looking for, so she then had to go investigate, and the two then bonded. When the tamandua duo became a trio, keepers recorded notes and observations about the little family, since a tamandua birth was a rarely documented event.
The year ended with another species first: four Chacoan peccaries, also known as tagua, came to the Zoo as part of a breeding program for this endangered species. The Zoological Society first got involved with conservation efforts for tagua in 1985, and it was an honor to be selected as one of only two zoos in North America to have these rare members of the pig family in the collection.