Oregon Zoo welcomes new baby armadillo

Three-banded armadillo Max gives birth to her first pint-sized pup

Max, a three-banded armadillo at the Oregon Zoo, welcomed a tiny new pup last week. According to care staff, the new mom and her baby are doing well in their behind-the-scenes maternity den. This is the first offspring for Max and the pup's father, Toby, and the first armadillo to be born at the Oregon Zoo.

"Max is doing great so far as a first-time mom," said Tanya Paul, who oversees the zoo's armadillo family. "Baby armadillos are about the size of a golf ball, and they're born with soft shells, so Max likes to curl her body around the pup to keep him warm and comfortable."

The new pup is in good hands (or five-toed feet, in this case). Three-banded armadillos are the only armadillos that can roll into a ball for protection, allowing Max to create a safe and cozy space for her new baby. Among the smallest of the 20 species of armadillo, adult three-banded armadillos weigh about 3 pounds. The pint-sized new pup weighs just 5 ounces, but keepers say he's growing fast.

"He's nursing well and getting bigger every day," Paul said. "He'll stick close to his mom for the next several months, but he's already started venturing out a bit and exploring his habitat."

The pup had a quick veterinary checkup on Wednesday, but other than that care staff have been taking a hands-off approach to help the pair bond naturally. Max and her pup are in a private den behind the scenes, but visitors to the zoo can see the pup's dad, Toby, in the treetop habitat near giraffes and naked mole rats starting next month.

Three-banded armadillos are native to the dry grasslands of eastern Bolivia, southwestern Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Unlike most armadillos, they do not dig for shelter, preferring to make their homes in abandoned anteater burrows. Their numbers in the wild are declining due to habitat loss, hunting and illegal pet trade.

Three-banded armadillos are listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Max, Toby and their new pup are part of the AZA's Species Survival Plan for three-banded armadillos.

The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.

Media contact: 

Hova Najarian | 503-220-5714 | hova.najarian@oregonzoo.org

Kelsey Wallace | 503-220-5754 | kelsey.wallace@oregonzoo.org