The Golden Tennis Ball

The Silky Anteater, the golden tennis ball at Hacienda Baru

The Silky Anteater, the golden tennis ball at Hacienda Baru

By Jack Ewing
Photos by Jack Ewing

We started a list of species for Hacienda Barú and the surrounding areas in 1987. By 1994, all best-known mammals were listed, and we were looking for the less obvious.

One of those mammals was the silky anteater (Cyclopes didactylus). All available information indicated that it should be found in this region, but nobody at Hacienda Baru had ever seen one, nor had any of our neighbors.

One day, Juan Ramón Segura returned from guiding a rainforest hike with a big smile radiating from his face. “Get your camera boss. Let’s go. There’s a silky anteater just up here in the forest.”

The Silky Anteater, the golden tennis ball at Hacienda BaruThe golden ball of fluff was curled up in a tangle of lianas a couple of meters above the ground. It was difficult to see even knowing where to look. Biologists suggest that there may be more of them around than we think, but they are small, quiet, nocturnal, and live in the treetops making sightings extremely rare. When I ran out of film, we returned to the office only to discover that another guide, Pedro Porras, had sighted one on a different hike at a different location.

Ten years later, another one was sighted on an overnight camping tour, and on April 3, 2014 a fourth on a canopy tour. These charismatic little mammals have been called the golden tennis ball due to their golden color and habit of rolling into a ball.

INFO: Jack Ewing – Hacienda Baru

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