Baby animals

Adorable anteater arrives at New York City zoo

Feb. 21, 2014 at 3:57 PM ET

Baby anteater rides on the back of his mother.
Staten Island Zoo
MJ, the Staten Island Zoo's newest tamandua, hitches a ride on his mother's back.

It’s a New York City first!

A tamandua, or what most call an anteater, was born at the Staten Island Zoo last month — the first recorded tamandua birth in the New York metropolitan area. MJ's Jan. 12 birth is being hailed as a cause for celebration: With just 70 tamanduas in zoos throughout the country, births are rare. 

"There are so few living in captivity, and only one to two births are recorded in Association of Zoos and Aquariums nationwide," Dr. Marc Valitutto, the zoo's general curator, said in a press release.

MJ the tamandua rides on his mom's back.
Staten Island Zoo
MJ the tamandua rides on his mom's back.

The baby's name, which stands for "Max Junior," is a tribute to radio host Elvis Duran. Duran donated MJ's parents to the zoo in 2011, and as a thank you to him, the zoo named the baby tamandua after Duran's dog, Max.

Although MJ is only a month old, Valitutto says that the little guy already has a sweet disposition.

“He’s very personable already,” Valitutto told TODAY.com. “His parents always enjoy the company of others, and it looks like he does as well.” Just keep an eye out for his tongue, which can reach up to 15 inches in length.

MJ most likely will be moved into one of the zoo's exhibits later this spring. While tamanduas are nocturnal and usually sleep during the day, Valitutto says zoo visitors will still be able to spot MJ and his family in their enclosure during their visits.


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