Saturday, July 26, 2014

Giant Anteaters On The Attack

 Giant anteaters in Brazil have killed two hunters in separate incidents, raising concerns about the animals' loss of habitat and the growing risk of dangerous encounters with people, researchers said.

The long-nosed, hairy mammals are not typically aggressive toward people and are considered a vulnerable species.  They can grow up to seven feet long and weigh over 100 pounds. Giant anteaters typically eat mainly insects but they also enjoy citrus and avocados.  They have poor vision and if frightened, they can defend themselves with extremely muscular forearms and claws that are as long as pocketknives.

In the first case, a 47-year-old man was hunting with his two sons and his dogs when they came upon a giant anteater in northern Brazil. The hunter did not shoot at the animal, but he approached it with his knife drawn.  The anteater stood on its hind legs and grabbed the man with its forelimbs, causing deep puncture wounds in his thighs and upper arms.  The hunter bled to death at the scene.

The other case involved a 75-year-old man who died when an anteater used its long front claws  to puncture his femoral arteries, located in the groin and thigh.  Zookeepers generally avoid being in the same space as the animals, coaxing them into separate fenced-off areas when they approach their living quarters for cleaning,  Attacks are rare, but  serve as a reminder to give the animals plenty of space.

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