Drusillas Park has welcomed an extraordinary exotic animal for the first time.
Two-year-old giant anteater, Olivia (nicknamed Oli) arrived at the Park on Wednesday (March 29) after travelling all the way from Decin Zoo in the Czech Republic.
Since then, beautiful Oli has been delighting visitors and is settling in nicely into her new home, which has been created specifically for her and includes a wealth of creature comforts.
Normally found snuffling around the grasslands and forests of Central and South America, this is a species never before seen at Drusillas Park.
Sadly, these incredible animals are facing an increasing threat of extinction as a result of habitat destruction, forest fires and hunting.
With only an estimated 5,000 giant anteaters left in the wild, it is imperative that they are protected before it’s too late.
Drusillas says it is proud to be playing its part in safeguarding the species and, in a few months, Oli will be joined by a male from GaiaZOO, Holland.
These extraordinary giants are often underestimated but their unique and quirky characteristics make them incredibly impressive.
Growing up to 7ft in length, the giant anteater understandably has a fierce appetite and feasts on around 35,000 ants and termites each day. Using its razor sharp claws and powerful forelegs it tears apart anthills and termite mounds, scooping up insects with a long sticky tongue that it can shoot in and out of its snout more than 150 times a minute.
Head Keeper Mark Kenward said, “These unique insectivorous giants will bring amazement to both keepers and park visitors as they look as if they are from another planet.
“I find it amazing how they have grown so large on a diet of such tiny insects. Giant anteaters are one of my favourite species and I feel I would have achieved both a personal and career goal by working with them.
“Anteaters have no teeth but they are exceptionally powerful, with huge front claws - even jaguars think twice about messing with them.”
The hairy new arrival can now be found searching for insects next to the flamingo enclosure along the zoo route, so keep a look out for her on your next visit.
Located just off the A27 in Alfriston, Drusillas Park is open from 10.00am until 6.00pm. For more information, call 01323 874100 or visit www.drusillas.co.uk