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.