My latest trip to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington DC brought me to the small mammal house, where I discovered these guys:
The southern tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla)is a relative of the anteater and native to South America. Thanks to it's prehensile tail, which is furless underneath, these mammals can climb trees. Like anteaters, they have long tongues which allow them to slurp their favorite food -- ants and termites. Fortunately, populations of tamanduas are not currently threatened, but we should still be vigilant to keep the species secure. The threats are similar to many mammals found in North America -- overhunting, habitat loss, vehicular traffic, and fires. And sometimes people try to keep these guys as pets -- remember, wild animals don't make good pets! Want to learn more? Check out the National Zoo's informative tamandua fact sheet.