A rare giant anteater has been given a welcoming fit for a king at his new home.
Oso, a 4-year-old male anteater, arrived from a zoo in Cumbria, England, to the Chester Zoo, located about 125 miles south.
Once Oso arrived, he was able to run around his enclosure, where he slurped up colonies of ants and went hunting around his new habitat for more insects to snack on.
He was brought to the zoo as part of a European endangered species breeding program. The officials at the zoo are hoping Oso mates with Bliss, another anteater in the facility.
“Oso is a very important giant anteater as males are scarce in the European breeding program,” Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals at Chester Zoo, said in a statement. “His genetic makeup is vital to the future conservation breeding of the species and hopefully, in time, he’ll hit it off with female Bliss and they’ll go on to have pups.”
Giant anteaters, which are native to Central and South America, are classed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They are threatened on both continents, where much of the grassland they depend on to survive has been destroyed. In some areas of Brazil, where they once roamed freely, there are few left, if any.
The giant anteater species feeds mostly on tiny insects and can devour up to 30,000 ants or termites in a day. Anteaters use their sticky tongue which can reach two feet in length and extend and withdraw at up to 150 times per minute to feed.