A baby southern tamandua, a species of anteater, can be seen sticking an adorable pink tongue out in a photo taken at the Los Angeles Zoo.
When it’s fully grown, the tamandua will use its nearly 16-inch-long tongue to root out ants and termites for food, Smithsonian’s National Zoo said.
The new addition that doesn’t have a name quite yet is the first southern tamandua successfully bred at the Los Angeles Zoo, officials said in a Sept. 20 news release.
“This is a significant birth for the Zoo,” Mallory Peebles, senior animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo, said in the release. “This is the first time L.A. Zoo visitors will have the opportunity to see the species as a neonate and observe its development over time.”
The pup, whose gender will be determined later via blood tests, was born Aug. 28 to Lou, an 8-year-old male, and Micah, a 6-year-old female.
The baby’s gestation lasted 164 days, zoo officials said.
“Micah and the pup have been bonding and settling nicely into their habitat,” the zoo said in the release. “Micah has been an attentive and caring new mother, often observed cuddling with her pup in their nest or touring the exhibit with her pup on her back.”
Southern tamanduas, also known as lesser anteaters, are found in Colombia, Venezuela, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Uruguay, and Argentina, officials said.
They use their sharp claws and long tongues to feed on ants, termites, bees and honey. Their 16-inch-long tongues are coated with backward-facing spines to catch prey.
Adult southern tamanduas eat up to 9,000 ants and termites per day, according to the zoo.
They use their prehensile tails to grab onto tree branches and to keep their balance, Smithsonian’s National Zoo said.