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Virginia Zoo opens new anteater exhibit

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Posted at 4:22 PM, May 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-26 16:37:53-04
Felipito, the Virginia Zoo's male tamandua, explores his habitat inside the Zoo's Exhibit Building for the first time.

Felipito, the Virginia Zoo’s male tamandua, explores his habitat inside the Zoo’s Exhibit Building for the first time.

Norfolk, Va. – Visitors to the Virginia Zoo can now see the tamandua habitat inside the Zoo’s Exhibit Building.

Tamanduas are a species of anteater from South America, where they inhabit both forests and savanna. Adults range from 28 to 62 inches long, including a 15 to 26-inch prehensile tail, and weigh from 3 to 19 pounds. They have a gland at the base of their tail, similar to a skunk’s, that releases a very unpleasant odor used to deter predators.

A solitary animal, tamanduas feed on ants, termites and bees. They have long claws they use to break into insect nests or in self-defense. Tamanduas are mainly nocturnal and spend much of their time foraging in trees. They nest in hollow tree trunks or in the abandoned burrows of other animals. Amazonian natives sometimes use tamanduas to rid their homes of ants and termites, but the Zoo has no plans to rent out its tamanduas for residential pest control.

The Zoo has two tamanduas: a male named Felipito and a female named Grace.

“Tamanduas are really exotic-looking and the kids love them,” said Greg Bockheim, the Zoo’s executive director. “Felipito is really interactive and can often be seen at the habitat’s window, checking out his human visitors.”