The newest arrival at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo has an unfamiliar name, Southern Tamandua, but guests may recognize it as an anteater. In fact, it is a lesser anteater, not to be confused with its relative, the greater anteater.
Zoo Curator and Supervisor Ashley Burdick said the tamandua will serve as an education ambassador, accompanying keepers as they visit schools and present other outreach programs.
“He came to us from Florida and is about 1.5 years old,” Burdick said. Tamanduas come from South America and feed primarily on insects.
“He is currently off-exhibit, but we’ll have him out and about and plan to have him on exhibit this summer,” Burdick said. Meanwhile, the public is invited to help the zoo staff name the new arrival. There are three choices:
• Ande - after the Andes Mountains in the tamandua’s home range.
• Enzo - a popular name in the area they’re found; it means “winner.”
• Diego - another popular name where they’re found. This name means “supplanter” but is believed to be derived from the name Santiago. In medieval times, Diego was Latinized as Didacus, possibly from the Greek word “didache,” meaning “teaching.”
To vote and see a video, visit the Great Bend-Brit Spaugh Zoo Facebook page.
Taking custody of Ande/Enzo/Diego on Wednesday was a challenge. Burdick and zookeeper Katy Schmidt drove to Wichita to pick him up. “With 20 minutes to go, the flight turned back from Wichita and went to Tulsa,” she said. “From there the plane went back to Dallas. We spent several hours trying to get the airline to take him off at Dallas and send him to Tulsa where we would drive to pick him up and take him back home. We arrived back in Great Bend at 1:30 Thursday morning.”
About the Southern Tamandua
According to Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Institute, Southern tamanduas typically weigh about 10 pounds. Their relative, the giant anteater, can weigh 40 to 140 pounds. The underside of their tails is fur-less; this allows them to grip tree branches more securely as they move through the trees. They have large claws.