Earlier in July, a newborn giant anteater was found abandoned in a pasture in Brazil. He was unresponsive and severely dehydrated, likely just hours from passing away. With no mother to be found, he was taken to Instituto Estadual Florestal (IEF) where caregivers found he weighed just 2.5 pounds. Luckily, he was still able to suckle fluids and showed signs he might recover. Over the last few days, his condition has improved and he now has a voracious appetite and demands to be fed every two hours. Three of the staff at the Institute are providing care around the clock to give this little one the best chance of survival.
IEF has a track record of success with orphaned anteaters. In May, they collaborated with the Anteaters & Highways project on a release of three orphaned anteaters they had rescued. As part of Naples Zoo’s partnership with the Anteaters & Highways Project and its coordinator Dr. Arnaud Desbiez, the Zoo provided funding for the GPS collars that are now monitoring these anteaters to provide information to insure future releases are as successful as they can be. In honor of this support, IEF named the new baby anteater “Tim” after our Director of Conservation, Tim Tetzlaff. Over the next year, IEF staff will care for the anteater Tim and prepare him for a return to the Uberlândia region in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. If all goes well, we will be able to share Tim’s progress growing up and his eventual release into the wild.
Naples Zoo provides long-term support for projects in its conservation portfolio. Naples Zoo has continuously funded Desbiez’s efforts in Brazil since 2012. Tetzlaff and a Naples Zoo supervisor, Julie Bragovich, went to Brazil to connect with his projects and others last year. As Desbiez states, “Naples Zoo is a key partner of the Anteaters & Highways project. They sponsor the salary for our head veterinarian, support and manage our websites, help to fundraise for GPS collars, and also act as a sounding board to help us decide on conservation strategies. There is actually very little that the Zoo does not actively participate in!”
Recently, Naples Zoo also provided the membership funds for the Anteater & Highways project to join Species360, a global database that improves wildlife care and conservation with records on over 10 million animals of 22,000 species. J. Peter Donlon, Director, Global Member Development of this organization explains, “By incorporating years of data collected from wild anteaters into Species360, Dr. Arnaud Desbiez and his team are opening up a two-way flow of information about this threatened species to provide new, easily accessible resources for animal care staff and researchers at any of our 1,200 members across 96 countries. We recognize Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens for providing the funds for this innovative Species360 membership and recognizing this as an excellent opportunity to advance the goals of the One Plan Approach to develop effective management strategies and conservation actions for species both inside and outside their natural range.”
This November, Tetzlaff and Desbiez will have the chance to talk over the upcoming efforts in person again for both anteaters as well as Desbiez’s other significant program with giant armadillos when both attend the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums conference in Buenos Aires where Arnaud will also be featured as one of the keynote speakers. Tetzlaff will also meet with other organizations the zoo partners with in South America including the Hyacinth Macaw Project, Parque das Aves, and the Blue-Fronted Amazon Project.
Since 2015, the nonprofit Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens has invested over one million dollars to save plants and animals in the wild. This is made possible through its members, visitors, and donors. Admission to the 43-acre historic botanical garden and nationally-accredited zoo includes a full day of wildlife presentations, Meet the Keeper series, and a guided cruise through islands of monkeys, lemurs, and gibbons. ($22.95 adults age 13+/ $14.95 children 3 to 12, under 3 free.) Zoo memberships and discount tickets are available online at www.napleszoo.org. Naples Zoo is open daily from 9:00 to 5:00 and is located in the heart of Naples at 1590 Goodlette-Frank Road across from the Coastland Center mall. For more, click www.napleszoo.org, follow them at www.facebook.com/napleszoo or call (239) 262-5409.