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Why Are These Zoo Keepers Baffled by This Anteater's Babies?

"It is a bit of a mystery."

Baby on the back of the mother anteater. (Photo: LEO Zoological Conservation Center Facebook)

Zoo keepers are thrilled to welcome a new baby anteater, but are completely puzzled as to how its mother conceived.

Officials at the LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Connecticut tell the Greenwich Time they had removed the only male anteater from the enclosure in August, long before the six-month gestation period for baby Archie would have begun.

Baby on the back of the mother anteater. (Photo: LEO Zoological Conservation Center Facebook)

They feared that male, Alf, would kill another baby in the pen. That left the mother Armani, and the young female, Alice, in the enclosure.

But little Archie was born in April anyway.

Marcella Leone, founder and director of the conservation center, suspects this might be a rare case of delayed implantation, when fertilized eggs remain dormant in the uterus for a period of time.

The Greenwich Time reported that the same phenomenon has been seen in sloths and armadillos, which belong to the same suborder as anteaters.

Stacy Belhumeur with Reid Park Zoo, who is a survival coordinator for giant anteaters, said delayed implantation is unlikely in this case, thinking it is more likely the male and female somehow found a way to mate.

"My guess is they thought they had him separated," Belhumeur told Greenwich Time. "We've seen incredible feats of breeding success. We've had animals breed through fences."

Huh.

Leone acknowledged that there is a place where the fence is shared but at the time conception would have had to take place, that fence line would not have been shared.

"It is a bit of a mystery," Leone said.

See more pictures of the baby anteater and its mom here.

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The Associated press contributed to this report. 

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