–The City of Atascadero and the Charles Paddock Zoo are pleased to announce their newest resident. Amber, a Giant Anteater, went on display Saturday, Aug. 19. The new Anteater is an older animal who needed a home without other anteaters, so she has moved to the Central Coast for her retirement.
Giant Anteaters range from Honduras in Central America to Bolivia in South America. They can be found in forests, grasslands, and savanna areas. These animals are specialized to eat ants and termites. Their strong front claws are used to rip open ant nests. Their tongue is almost 2-feet long, which they use to eradicate ants or termites from their nests. The Anteaters have sticky saliva, which is essential to remove these insects. While anteaters have no teeth, their specialized tongue lets them eat up to 30,000 ants and termites a day. At the Charles Paddock Zoo, Amber will eat a special commercial insectivore diet.
Giant Anteaters are considered a threatened species; they are hunted, hit by cars, killed by pet dogs and driven out of areas that are converted to farming. It is estimated that only 5,000 Giant Anteaters remain in the wild. AZA-accredited zoos, like Charles Paddock Zoo, are working with Giant Anteaters in captivity to maintain an assurance population and to support conservation programs in their home range.
Over 200 animals make their home at the Charles Paddock Zoo, including red pandas, monkeys, meerkats, parrots, a Malayan Tiger, a variety of reptiles and much more. The zoo is located next to Atascadero Lake Park off Highway 41, and is owned and operated by the City of Atascadero. The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Regular admission prices are $7 for visitors who are 12 years of age and older; $6 for Seniors 65 years or older; $5 for ages 3-11; children age 2 and under are free.