Abigail Klein Leichman
October 13, 2022

A newborn southern three-banded armadillo has arrived at the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem, better known as the Biblical Zoo.

It’s the first baby for Quinta, who came from a zoo in Belgium, and Hugo, who came from a zoo in Germany. Zookeepers don’t yet know if the pup is male or female and haven’t given it a name.

Armadillo means “little armored one,” and that armor consists of bony plates covered in keratin. There are about 20 species of armadillo, and all of them descend from South American ancestors.

The populations of the southern three-banded armadillo are getting smaller, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the species as “near threatened.”

The southern three-banded armadillo and the other member of the genus Tolypeutes, the Brazilian three-banded armadillo, are the only species of armadillos able to curl into tight balls to defend themselves thanks to their flexible bands.

The new armadillo lives in the Peyser-Wexler Small Animal Building, but the zoo warns that visitors will have to look carefully: as nocturnal animals, armadillos perform most activities — foraging, eating, burrowing, mating — at night. During the daylight hours, they spend up to 16 hours sleeping, usually in burrows.

In related news, last month a giraffe from an endangered subspecies was born at the zoo to first-time mother Rotem.

The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo’s newest giraffe. Photo by Yakir Asraf

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