13:40 PM

Annie and Oakley Find a New Home at ZooAmerica

I have read about armadillos but until just recently I had never seen one. And, now that I have, I understand what an “armor of external body plates” looks like, courtesy of Annie and Oakley who are the two newest residents at ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park.

At just four months of age and weighing only two pounds each, Annie and Oakley, the nine-banded armadillos, traveled from the University of the Ozarks in Arkansas to make their home at ZooAmerica. Armadillos are the only mammal to have an armor of external body plates. The plates are covered in a leathery keratinous (or horny) skin. These scales are hard, but flexible.

The body of the armadillo is covered in three main areas: a pelvic shield, a shield on the shoulder region, and the bands in between the shields. A nine-banded armadillo will have anywhere from eight to eleven visible bands. Each band is separated by a layer of skin and hair. Their shell will continue to grow until they are a year old, and then it will harden.

Nine-banded armadillos are found throughout the southeastern U.S. and west to New Mexico, and as far north as Missouri and Illinois. They also range throughout Mexico and Central America and even into parts of South America.

In the wild, armadillos might eat up to 500 different food items, most of which are insects and invertebrates. 90% of their diet is animal matter. At ZooAmerica, Annie and Oakley are fed a soaked mixture of grain-free cat and dog food as well as numerous insects.

Annie and Oakley were raised by people so they are very comfortable with the Zoo Staff and visitors. Since the two armadillos are not related, there is hope that next year there may be some armadillo pups.

There are so many reasons to visit ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park and now, with the addition of Annie and Oakley, there are two more reasons. Be sure to stop at the Great Southwest Building on your next trip to ZooAmerica so you can see Annie and Oakley in person.

For more Zoo happenings and photos, please connect to our branded social media channels: Facebook.com/ZooAmerica and @ZooAmerica on Instagram.