Three species of anteaters are found in Brazil: the giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), the lesser anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla) and the silky anteater (Cyclopes pygmaeus). Crepuscular and nocturnal, they may be found in savannas, cerrado and humid forests. Understanding how to manage these species in captivity is of great importance, owing to their special nutritional, environmental and behavioral needs, and the difficulties encountered with their captive reproduction. It is worth pointing out that on the list of endangered species published by the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment on 27 May, 2003, Myrmecophaga tridactyla stands out. This context makes clear the important role which zoos play in maintaining programs which have as their fundamental objective the reproduction of these representatives of Brazil's mammalian fauna, especially those threatened with extinction.
With the intention of pooling all available information on tamanduas, both in situ and ex situ – as well as to develop an action plan for the conservation of these three species in Brazil, and to bring together those Brazilian institutions which have developed projects along these lines – we have created Project Anteaters (Grupo de Trabalho pela Conservação do Tamanduá no Brasil), composed of professionals who work with wild animals and who have experience in the management and husbandry of the species in question.
Therefore we plan to develop a project meant to coordinate data obtained from across the country. This group will be based in the São Paulo Zoo (Fundação Parque Zoológico de São Paulo), as this institution has been a pioneer in the conservation of Brazilian anteaters. Among other successes, the São Paulo Zoo registered the first captive births of giant and lesser anteaters in Brazil; the Zoo maintains the largest collection of these species in the country, and the thirdlargest collection of giant anteaters in the world. The Zoo has a team of professionals on staff who are well-known for their experience with captive management of these species, with national and international publications.
The Mission of Project Anteaters
To promote actions which support the conservation of Brazilian anteaters.
The founders of Project Anteaters include Flávia Regina Miranda, of the São Paulo Zoo; Rodrigo Hidalgo Teixeira, of the Sorocaba Zoo, São Paulo; and Cátia Dejuste, of the Brazilian environmental agency Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (IBAMA).
The international consultants include Dr. Roberto Aguilar, Senior Veterinarian, Audubon Zoo – Audubon Nature Institute, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Marcela Uhart, of the Universidad Nacional Del Centro de la Provincia de Bueno Aires, Argentina and the Field Veterinary Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society; and Delio Orjuela, Medical Veterinarian of the Zoological Park in Cali, Colômbia.
The specific objectives of Project Anteaters include:
develop management protocols for the conservation of Brazilian anteaters;
develop a regional studbook cataloguing all individuals now in captivity;
present national and international workshops with an emphasis on the conservation of these species;
develop projects on research and environmental education;
initiate a program of controlled breeding for the captive animals, in order to reestablish the captive population;
develop partnerships with wildlife professionals who have in situ experience, with the goal of improving ex situ management;
unite the institutions which maintain these species in captivity; and
establish international partnerships towards the conservation of these species.
For more information, please contact Flávia Miranda, Fundação Parque Zoológico de São Paulo, Av. Miguel Stefano 4241, São Paulo 04301-901, São Paulo, Brasil. E-mail <email@example.com> or <firstname.lastname@example.org>.