A rare southern three-banded armadillo baby was recently born at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, marking the first birth of a healthy pup in the zoo’s 116-year history.
The 2-week-old armadillo, born to first-time parents Vespa and Scooter, is just beginning to open its eyes, the zoo announced Tuesday
“She is healthy and the perfect little replica of her parents,” the zoo’s head veterinarian Dr. Karen Wolf said in the zoo’s announcement.
The baby and its mom will remain tucked away, behind the scenes in the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater area of the zoo, while they nurse and bond, the zoo said. Guests will be able to see the baby and its mom once the pup is old enough.
Zoo spokesperson Whitney DalBalcon said staff will select a name for the pup, who was born Oct. 30.
Southern three-banded armadillos — one of only two types of armadillo that can roll completely into a ball for protection — are listed as near-threatened due to habitat destruction in their South American homeland.
They eat ants and termites collected with their long, sticky tongues, and their shells are made of keratin, the same material as human fingernails.
According to the zoo, the pup’s birth was the result of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, which looks at the genetic makeup of prospective parents to promote diversity.