Giant Anteater Conservation Project
To promote the survival of giant anteaters in Argentina both in situ and ex situ
The giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) is the largest among the existent Xenarthra species. Its distribution ranges from Belize and Guatemala to northern Argentina. Its southernmost distribution was unknown until 2006. Although IUCN lists giant anteaters as Near Threatened, SAREM (Sociedad Argentina para el Estudio de los Mamíferos) lists it as Endangered in Argentina. It is a little studied species, with previously poor captive breeding results.
In view of the giant anteater's threat status in Argentina and the need for new founders in the European breeding programme (EEP), a collaboration for the conservation of giant anteaters was established in 2005 between Artis Zoo in the Netherlands and Zoo de Florencio Varela in Argentina. Zodiac Zoos (the Netherlands) and Barcelona Zoo (Spain) joined in subsequently. Dortmund Zoo (Germany) and Zoo de Doué la Fontaine (France) have also supported this project.
An educational area for visitors was built at the breeding centre. Since 2006 an educational project has been ongoing at a rural school located within the species' original distribution range. This programme was awarded a national prize in 2009. Workshops and conferences have been organised in several countries on various aspects of giant anteater conservation and research. The First International Workshop on Giant Anteaters attracted delegates from the Netherlands, Germany, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina. An international reference and support centre for giant anteaters has been established. To date, it has provided answers to queries from countries worldwide.
Research has been carried out in haematology, blood chemistry, anatomy and physiology of giant anteaters. The current local distribution of giant anteaters in Argentina was determined and published. Ongoing research includes cytogenetic of giant anteaters and Tamandua tetradactyla as well as further studies on the distribution of giant anteaters.
To date, five offspring have been born at the breeding centre. Two additional young were born at Artis Zoo as part of the European breeding programme. Five giant anteaters kept as pets have been rehabilitated, and two were subsequently reintroduced.
WAZA Conservation Project 11003 is implemented by Proyecto Conservación oso Hormiguero Gigante, with support provided by Zoo de Florencio Varela, Artis Zoo, Zodiac Zoos, Barcelona Zoo, Dortmund Zoo, Zoo de Doué la Fontaine and the Dutch Zoo Conservation Fund.
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