Since 2008, Eury has been one of the most charismatic crowd-pleasers in our zoo.
If you’ve participated in a Zoo Trek, you may have experienced the shock of his 2-foot-long tongue snaking inside your sneaker.
If you’ve accidentally dropped a little one’s shoe into his exhibit, you may have seen firsthand the catastrophic consequences of his inquisitive nature.
And, if you’ve listened to a Keeper Talk featuring our beloved anteater, you may have heard him fondly referred to as a grumpy old man. Temperament aside, at 19 years of age, Eury is, in fact, considered “old.”
In the wild, giant anteaters have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, while in captivity, they have been known to reach 20 years of age. As with all of our geriatric animals, our animal care staff has been working hard to help ease the side effects of Eury’s advancing age.
Eury arrived at the GSC with an old hip injury. To compensate for the damage, Eury had naturally been bearing more weight on the uninjured side, which led to chronic arthritis in that knee.
To manage his pain, our team has been making adjustments to Eury’s habitat as well as administering medication as necessary.
Inside the blockhouse (the indoor part of his exhibit), keepers are ensuring the kiddie pool he uses as a bed is full of a thick, comfy layer of pine shavings. Additional mulch is regularly added to the area to create a soft surface for him 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.
When it comes to medication, Eury receives a daily glucosamine/chondroitin supplement, a daily dose of meloxicam and two daily doses of both tramadol and gabapentin. In addition, he receives a glycosaminoglycan injection every two weeks. New to his care routine are daily cannabis oil treats.
Eury has also recently started acupuncture and cold laser therapy sessions, which he is handling very well. Dr. Tara Harrison, from North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, visited the GSC in early June to assist with his first session. In addition to demonstrating the proper technique to our teams, she also brought along a group of her students to observe and participate. 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).
For the last 3 years, Eury has been regularly evaluated by animal care staff using our quality of life assessment. During these assessments, Eury’s primary keeper and our veterinarian discuss Eury’s health, well-being, and current and potential treatments. For his most recent assessment, it was noted that, although Eury has chronic and severe arthritis, he is still maintaining himself (grooming, eating, drinking, keeping weight on, etc.) and he is responding well to the acupuncture and cold laser therapy sessions.
Eury is a geriatric anteater and is experiencing some of the issues that come with advanced age, but he is still doing well and his keeper and vet will continue to monitor his quality of life and provide him with supportive care.