Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Photo of the Day #26: Giant Anteater
Myrmecophaga tridactyla Linnaeus, 1758
Myrmecophagidae; Xenarthra; Mammalia; Chordata
One of the most peculiar mammals, a relict from the times when South America was an island, the giant anteater is amongst my favourite of all animals. For an animal that pretty much eats only termites (not ants!), it reaches a huge size and can defend itself pretty well.
I’ve been coming to London Zoo for years, and since the giant anteaters moved in a few years ago, I’ve tried my hardest to see them. They have a fairly large outdoor pen (where the grey wolves used to be in the 90s), as well as an indoor enclosure with a low-level window for us to peer into. The first few times I visited the anteaters, I couldn’t see them outside or indoors. In 2005, I bent down to find them in the indoor enclosure. I saw a striped lump, took a bad picture, and dissatisfied, withdrew from the niche, but in an undignified manner. I banged my head hard on the roof of the nook, and felt concussed as I walked through the squirrel monkey enclosure. That was a painful and embarrassing experience with anteaters; I felt I deserved it though, as I was taking flash photographs in the Moonlight World exhibit not long before, despite the fact that the lorises and bushbabies were getting a bit freaked out.
The last time I visited the zoo, I saw both adult anteaters, and this one paraded about inside the indoor enclosure, this being the best photo I took. I made sure not to bang my head this time.