Anteater Gives Birth Despite No Apparent Male Partner

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The birth of an anteater has puzzled staff at the LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Greenwich, Conn., because its mother has not had a male mating partner recently, according to the Daily Mail U.K.



Armani and Alf lived together at the zoo until last August. That's when the zoo removed Alf from the enclosure because they feared he would kill their offspring, Alice. It's not unusual for male anteaters to kill their firstborns.

Armani and Alice have been alone for the nine months since then, until Armani gave birth last month to a male anteater named Archie. But the gestation period for anteaters is six months. Alf had been gone for eight months.

The numbers don't add up.

Marcella Leone, the conservation center's founder and director, says science can offer an explanation for the unusual birth. She believes it is a rare case of delayed implantation, when fertilized eggs remain dormant in the uterus for a period of time.

But Stacey Belhumeur, species survival plan coordinator for the North American population of giant anteaters, and a zookeeper at Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, Ariz., is skeptical about the possibility of a delayed implantation. Belhumeur told the Greenwich (Conn.) Times that although delayed implantation has been observed in some marsupials, it's unlikely in anteaters, and especially in Armani's case, because she had just given birth to Alice when Alf was moved.

"When she gives birth, her entire uterus is going to clear out," Belhumeur said. "Anything that's in her uterus, even another undeveloped embryo, would clear out."

Belhumeur claims the more likely scenario is that Armani and Alf were able to reconnect despite the zoo's best efforts. "We've seen incredible feats of breeding success," Belhumeur said. "We've had animals breed through fences."

No formal scientific study was conducted and Archie's birth came as a complete surprise, so the truth probably will never be known. The only thing we know for sure is that Archie is one special anteater.

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