Meet Rica: Edinburgh Zoo's new baby armadillo

Armadillo pup is introduced to its adoring public

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Edinburgh Zoo introduces baby armadillo to the world

Edinburgh Zoo has introduced its gorgeous baby three-banded armadillo Rica to the world.

She was born to mum Rio and dad Rodar on Sunday 24 August 2014.

A tiny 81g at birth and around the same size as a golf ball, Rica is a female three-banded armadillo who has grown rapidly in her first month, already quadrupling in weight.

Both parents only arrived at Edinburgh Zoo in March 2014.

Gareth Bennett, Senior Presentations Keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, said: "This is the first birth of any armadillo species at Edinburgh Zoo and it is amazing how quickly little Rica is growing up!

"She is just amazing to watch; always full of energy and scurrying about her surroundings like a perfectly formed miniature of a fully grown three banded armadillo. For her first few weeks she could not quite roll up into a perfect ball because of her huge claws and softer, smaller shell, but she has now grown into her shell and can quickly pack herself into the tightly sealed ball which adult three banded armadillos are known for.

"You would never know that Rio was a first time mother as she is incredibly protective of Rica, constantly watching or carrying her, but mum is also very relaxed and has had no problem getting her new-born to suckle from her.

Edinburgh Zoo introduces baby armadillo to the world

"When she first arrived at Edinburgh Zoo it did not take long for mum Rio to come out of her shell, very quickly becoming one of the stars of the Animal Antics hilltop shows where she likes to show off her unusual and much lighter than normal blonde shell, scurrying about through the feet of the audience!

"However, after a few months, we noticed a slight change in her body weight and a few scratch marks on her back... putting two and two together we investigated with an ultrasound and were able to make out a peanut sized little armadillo shape."

"The family all lived together just after the birth, however in the wild all armadillo species are solitary animals. We actually recently had to take dad Rodar away as female armadillos are ready to mate again about two weeks after the birth and another offspring would have been a bit too much for Rio at this stage."

The young family of three banded armadillos, along with retired star Dillon, are little ambassadors for a giant cause. By taking part in Edinburgh Zoo's educational shows they help to raise awareness of the vital conservation work the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland does in the Brazilian Pantanal on the Giant Armadillo. The ecological study was the first in the world to ever photograph a giant armadillo, also managing to photograph a baby giant armadillo last year and to follow and observationally study the first few months of its life.

Mum Rio and baby Rica will remain off-show for the foreseeable future, but keepers hope that little Rica will eventually take up the family trade, meeting and greeting visitors around Edinburgh Zoo and taking part in the Animal Antics educational shows.

In the meantime, you can see dad Rodar in the Animal Antics Show each day at either 12:15 or 3pm.

The work of the RZSS Giant Armadillo Project in the Pantanal, Brazil, can be supported at The Ugly Animal Preservation Society's comedy night at Edinburgh Zoo on Friday 3 October at 7.30pm which is in aid of the 'exceptionally handsome' giant armadillo.

For more information visit edinburghzoo.org.uk


Baby zoo animals around the world

Baby zoo animals around the world


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