If you’ve never seen a giant anteater, you’re not alone. Evansville’s Mesker Park Zoo has not housed one of the animals for more than 50 years, but that changes with the recent addition of Mr. Pickles.
Giant anteater Mr. Pickles was born a couple years ago at Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, Indiana.
Not long after, Mesker Park Zoo officials filed a petition to the program managing giant anteaters. They were ready to be one of about 20 zoos to hold one of the animals.
"Our timing was really good," Animal Curator Dr. Susan Lindsey said. "They were doing their two-year plan, and there were a lot of males available."
Zookeeper Amy Augustine said a group of zoo staff and volunteers prepared his exhibit by removing fibrous plants, which are dangerous for anteaters' long, sensitive tongues. They also installed a barrier so he couldn’t dig too far and performed other updates to make Mr. Pickles's home safe and comfortable.
"It was just a really great coming-together of the entire team and volunteers to make this happen," Augustine said.
Today, you can see the giant anteater with his three Patagonian mara friends in the South American exhibit next to Amazonia. If you listen closely, you can hear him sniffing with a nose 40 times as strong as a human's.