The Belize Zoo is growing its family with an anteater - the only one that they have. The baby was found alone and the management later discovered that first time anteater mothers tended to abandon their babies.

But no worries for this little one, as he is being raised by the zoo and will be their first anteater ambassador. Courtney Menzies travelled there this morning and has the story.

The Tamandua Anteater is an endangered species, so when a newborn baby anteater was found abandoned in Duck Run back in September, it was up to a group of rescuers to take him to the Belize Zoo. Since then, he has been thriving but cannot be released into the wild because he would not be able to defend himself.

As such, the management of the zoo has decided to raise him and make him the anteater ambassador.

Shania Longsworth, Birdkeeper, The Belize Zoo
"When we found him he was only 270 grams, which is very small, he was about the size of my fist, and he still had his umbilical cord attached to him, so very young, we suspect maybe four days old, very very young. And he imprinted on us, we have been hand rearing him so because of that he can no longer be released back into the wild."

"Right now this is our only Anteater here in the zoo so he's going to be our Anteater ambassador, he's going to be our mascot, and he's going to teach people the important role he plays in the ecosystem."

Anteaters are at risk because of the destruction of their natural habitat. They are often seen running across roads, and because of this, they are constantly killed by cars, or stoned to death. It is the zoo's hope that people can be more educated about the harmless animal, and they will be building a new exhibit just for him.

But, the zoo is also struggling to find the resources to care for him.

Shania Longsworth, Birdkeeper, The Belize Zoo
"His diet right now is mostly kitten milk replacer and right now one of the issues we're having is that it's very hard to find and it's very expensive so we have been asking for donations in that form, or whatever form the people can provide for us. Right now he's being slowly introduced to termites and ants."

"Any donations that the zoo can get is always welcomed, it could be in the form of financially, it could be in the form of money, it can be in the form of material, things like fencing, anything that can help."

And it is not just this baby Tamandua that's being affected, but the entire zoo. The management is finding difficulty feeding the other animals, and are asking for donations in the form of finance or food.

One suggestion was for citizens to start raising small birds in order to eventually donate them.

Shania Longsworth, Birdkeeper, The Belize Zoo
"We are currently doing the best we can to keep the animal fed so that was one of the better ideas that came out, raising chicken, ducks, quails, anything that can help with feeding the carnivores of the zoo. We've also been very grateful to get donations in the form of cat food, like I said, milk replacer, fruits and vegetables. Anything like that is welcomed."

And, as for the nameless anteater, they will also be asking the public to choose his name.

Shania Longsworth, Birdkeeper, The Belize Zoo
"Fun thing about the name, the plan is to kinda take it to the public and have the public decide on the name that he's going to get. We had a couple names back here, some like Archie, Honey, I like Honey, people have said DR because he's from Duck Run, and a couple other names but they're gonna leave that up to the public for them to decide."

The public will be able to choose a name via a poll on the zoo's Facebook.

The baby anteater is about three months old, and weighs over 2 pounds.

Channel 7

The Belize Zoo has an Anteater after 10 Years!

Tonight we take you to the Belize Zoo where their newest and cutest little resident met the press.  It’s exciting news to share that the Belize Zoo now has an anteater after ten years without one. They are now looking to set up a new exhibit in the coming months to show off the baby anteater to the public.  But before they can do that, they need your help to get this little anteater ready to educate the public about its species.  Here’s the story.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

There’s a new little resident at the Belize Zoo – it’s a baby anteater!  This morning we found him casually hanging out on top of zoo keeper Shania Longsworth’s head.

Shania Longsworth, Birdkeeper, Belize Zoo

“He is comfortable up there and we assume that it is because in the wild this is how they cling to their mom. It will stay on attached to the mom and eventually they will leave as time goes by.

This little one was discovered abandoned on a farm in Duck Run Village. Zoo keepers estimate that he may have been only about four days old when residents found him back in September.

Shania Longsworth

“He is very easy with people because people are all he knows. He was found in Duck Run in the Spanish Lookout area. They found him alone with no mom in sight. And what they did was they kinda left him there for a little while to see if the mom would come back which is usually the case but in his case the mom never came back. We found out later this is very common when it comes to first moms in this species – the Tamandua species – the first time mothers will usually abandon their first born.”

And that is when the Zoo stepped in to provide a safe home for this little anteater.  He was a tiny bundle when he arrived – and now he weighs over two pounds. The zoo keepers have been providing special care for him. Now, he can no longer go back into the wild.

Shania Longsworth

“When we found him he was only two hundred and seventy grams – which is very small. He was about the size of my fist and he still had his umbilical cord attached to him. So, very young. We suspect maybe four days old. And he imprinted on us. Wehave been hand rearing him and so because of that he can no longer be released back into the wild because all he knows is people. He doesn’t know his natural predators or to be scared of human beings.”

And this baby anteater has filled a void at the Belize Zoo. It has been ten years since the Zoo last had a resident anteater. As the only anteater at the zoo – it will take on an important role for its species.

Shania Longsworth

“He is going to be our anteater ambassador. He is going to be our mascot and he is going to reach people the important roles he plays in the ecosystem. Tamanduas are usually victimized – we see stories of people running them over or stoning them to death. They are not very understood animals but as you can see here he is very nice and friendly.”

And to give this baby anteater a chance at a long and productive life at the zoo – they have already identified an area to build an exhibit. But they need the public’s help to support their newest resident with his diet and a new home.

Shania Longsworth

“It could be in the form of financially or it could be in the form of materials, fencing anything that can help. His diet right now is mostly kitten milk replacer and right now one of the issues we are having is that it is very hard to find and it is very expensive. And so we have been asking for donations.”

This little anteater has a big personality – very energetic and friendly. Its unique features like the four large claws on its powerful forelimbs, five claws on hind limbs, long snout and tongue, as well as its prehensile tail, all help it to survive as it grows older and transition to a diet of ants and termites. Zoo keepers suspect that this baby anteater is a male – but that will be confirmed as it grows older. And for now it’s also without a name – and so the zoo wants you to help identify a fitting name for its newest ambassador! Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.

Channel 5