As you may be aware, giant anteaters are solitary creatures for most of their lives. Aside from brief encounters with mates, the one big exception to an anteater's single life is during its formative years, when a young giant anteater lives with its mother. Anteaterlings generally ride on their moms' backs for up to a full year before even thinking about venturing out on their own. During this time, mothers provide their young with food, protection, and guidance.
So what happens when a mother abandons her baby? The scenario is relatively rare, but it does occasionally occur. In the wild, the baby could die, especially if it's particularly young and inexperienced in looking for food. But zookeepers are certainly not going to let an anteater baby perish under their watch! So in the rare instances when a captive mother rejects her baby, humans take turns caring day and night for the youngster until it's old enough to be left on its own.
The following video tells the heartwarming story of Olive (also pictured above), a giant anteater born at the Houston Zoo last year and hand-reared by members of the zoo staff. Check it out! •>~