Giant anteaters tend to live in the wild for 10 to 15 years, but Eury is way past that. The Greensboro Science Center staff calls Eury the giant anteater their “grumpy old man” at a full 19 years old.
But age is catching up with him, the science center said in a recent blog post. He already had an old hip injury when he got to the center about a decade ago, which led to chronic arthritis in one knee.
“Eury is a geriatric anteater and is experiencing some of the issues that come with advanced age, but he is still doing well,” the center said. That means he’s still eating well, grooming himself, and surprising center visitors by sticking his two-foot long tongue into their shoes.
Eury is about 7 feet long from the tip of his tail to the end of his long nose and weighs about 120 pounds, center spokeswoman Erica Brown said.
Veterinarians and Eury’s keepers have been giving him regular medication to help treat his joint pain, but are also adding CBD oil treats to his diet and giving him acupuncture and cold laser therapy to relieve the pain, the center said.
“To keep Eury occupied while acupuncture was in progress, our animal care staff provided him with some of his favorite snacks. Eventually, those snacks ran out. While those assembled would likely give him the shirts off their backs, they opted for another of his best-loved enrichment items instead – the shoes off their feet (Eury is quite fond of investigating stinky shoes),” according to the center.
Science center staff have also been making changes to Eury’s habitat so he can get around better. The center says they’re adding more pine shavings to make a nice comfortable mattress in the kiddie pool he calls a bed and more mulch to make the ground softer to walk on.
“In the outdoor exhibit space, the yard is being tiered to create a more gentle slope, which will be easier for his old bones to navigate,” the science center wrote.
Eury was born 19 years ago at the Oklahoma City Zoo, according to Erica Brown, spokeswoman for the center.
Then he went south and spent some time in Florida at the Brevard Zoo before moving to North Carolina, Brown said. He’s been at the Greensboro Science Center since 2008.
Giant anteaters are native to the forests and grasslands of Central and South America, according to the San Diego Zoo.
“The giant anteater is about the size of a golden retriever, but thick, bushy hair makes it look even bigger,” the San Diego Zoo writes.
In the wild, giant anteaters will eat 35,000 ants and termites a day, according to National Geographic.
Anteaters use their large claws to open up anthills, National Geographic said. They don’t destroy the mounds so they can return to the same spots to feed several times.
“But it has to eat quickly, flicking its tongue up to 160 times per minute. Ants fight back with painful stings, so an anteater may spend only a minute feasting on each mound,” National Geographic said.