A RARE giant anteater has been born at Longleat, following a captive-breeding programme.

Nicknamed "Bubbles" by his keepers, he is the fourth giant anteater to be born at the safari park.

His parents - mum Maroni and German dad Bonito - arrived at Longleat five years ago as part of a Europe-wide breeding programme for the species.

Bubbles will spend the next six months on his mum's back - where he'll suckle milk, as well as hide from predators.

Kim Reynolds, a keeper at Longleat, said: "To have a successful birth with out anteaters is fantastic as the species is under increasing threat in the wild.

"It's especially good to see mum Maroni and Bubbles showing all the usual signs of a mother and baby relationship in the early stages.

"The baby aligns himself to the pattern on mum's back to provide camouflage from any predators who might prey on the young.

"It's so effective that it's almost as if the baby becomes invisible."

Giant anteaters are listed as "vulnerable" on the international Red List of threatened species. Between 2000 and 2010, the world's population of anteaters dropped by almost a third.

The creatures originate from central and south America, where they live in tropical and deciduous forests.

Giant anteaters can grow to over two metres long, with tongues that can extent to more than 60cm.

Those long tongues and sharp claws allow them to get into ant and termite nests. An anteater can eat up to 30,000 insects a day.

For more about Bubbles, visit: www.longleat.co.uk.