Jewish mothers may be notoriously eager to set up their sons on a date, but they don't generally go as far as bringing in an eligible bachelorette from Denmark.
That's just what Israeli zookeepers are doing, though.
A female anteater and her young daughter have recently joined the South American section of the Ramat Gan safari park, Israeli media reported this week. Now Termite, the zoo's lone male anteater, will still be the only male, but he won't be quite so lonely.
The mother and daughter came to the Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Ganfrom a zoo in Copenhagen. The shidduch is part of a project to help threatened species like the anteater reproduce, Ynet said.
Termite, who hails from Poland, is 9, and his intended mate just 3. But then the sharp-clawed mammals, who use their long tongues to lap up 35,000 ants and termites a day in the wild, live an average of 14 years in nature. That life span extends to around 25 years in captivity.
"For several years we looked for a female who would make [Termite] happy and would bring descendants into the world with him," zoo spokeswoman Sagit Horowitz told Walla News. This week, Termite met his two new companions, sniffing them from a separate enclosure while they get used to each other.
"Fortunately, we found a 3-year-old female at a zoo in Denmark, but she gave birth eight months ago and we didn't want to separate her from her daughter. And so, without having planned it beforehand, two females came to the safari instead of one," said Horowitz.
Female anteaters typically have a single offspring once a year.
The newcomers have been in the zoo for several months, but were kept completely separate from Termite until this week, while they became acquainted with life in Ramat Gan, where they are fed a protein-rich shake including chopped meat, eggs, apples, pears, papaya and peat.
If Termite and his new single mom friend hit it off, it won't be a first family for either of them.
A female anteater from Singapore named Bonia shared a living space, and a child, with Termite at the Ramat Gan zoo. But their daughter, Bella, was transferred to a zoo in England two years ago and Bonia has since died, leaving Termite alone – and shy.
"Over the years, Termite has hidden inside the house, and when he would go outside he would hide between the bushes," Horowitz told Walla. "We already see that the two female anteaters are a lot less shy than him. Even though they're still a bit insecure in their new home, they are already starting to dig in their outdoor enclosure and walk around freely."
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now