Move Over Groundhogs, It’s All About Armadillos

While most people waited to hear a verdict for “spring” or “more winter” weather on Groundhog Day, the Virginia Zoo celebrated Armadillo Day, and for a special reason: to announce the birth of one!

A female, three-banded armadillo was born to four-year-old mom Izel and 16-year-old dad Vigo in November. The pup, or baby armadillo, was named Malassada, Molly for short, and is the first offspring for her parents. At her first exam, she weighed 3 ounces and now is nearly 1.5 pounds. Her birth is a result of the pairing of her parents as recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for three-banded armadillos.

Three-banded armadillos are native to grasslands in South America. The only armadillo species that can completely roll into a ball, the mammals have unique adaptations to protect against predators, including a hard-outer shell made up of bony plates covered by thick, hard skin. There are around 20 different species of armadillo found in the Americas, including the only species found in North America, the nine-banded armadillo.

Keepers are anticipating an SSP breeding recommendation for Molly one day in the future, but for now she continues to nurse on and explore with mom, play with enrichment items and take naps. Molly and her parents are ambassador animals that live behind the scenes in the Program Animals Building. Members of the family may be seen in the spring when the weather is warmer and ZooLive! Stage presentations begin at the Zoo.