Diabetic Giant Anteater Fitted With Glucose Monitor

The first diabetic giant anteater in the United Kingdom has been fitted with a monitor normally used on humans to check its blood glucose levels.

Keepers at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland are managing the first reported case of diabetes in a giant anteater with a device used by people with the condition.

Nala, 17, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after exhibiting the same symptoms as humans do. The staff first discovered something was wrong when she began losing weight despite eating the same amount.

Giant anteater with Type 1 diabetes
Giant anteater Nala, 17, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after exhibiting the same symptoms as humans do. Zookeepers at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland outfitted her with a glucose monitor that's normally used on humans. Matthew Newby, SWNS/Zenger

While the condition is known to occur in domestic cats, dogs, and in the Tamandua anteater genus in the wild, no other cases have been reported in giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla).

Keepers said taking blood from Nala daily to monitor her blood glucose levels was not an option. Initially, they monitored the levels through urine samples but they decided to contact companies who produce human glucose monitors to try and find a solution.

Dexcom, a leading provider of the technology, donated a monitor to the zoo that allows staff to check Nala's levels remotely through an app.

Dr. Stephanie Mota, resident veterinary surgeon at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: "Keepers first discovered something was wrong when Nala was losing weight despite eating the same amount, or sometimes even more, than usual.

"We carried out a full health check under general anesthetic, running lots of tests and found that Nala has Type 1 diabetes.

Giant anteater with Type 1 diabetes
Giant anteater Nala, 17, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after exhibiting the same symptoms as humans do. Zookeepers at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland outfitted her with a glucose monitor that's normally used on humans. Matthew Newby, SWNS/Zenger

"Our keepers did an amazing job quickly training Nala to take an insulin injection every day but the challenge for us was how to continuously monitor her blood glucose levels to ensure she was receiving the perfect dose.

"Taking bloods daily was not an option, and we did initially start monitoring the levels through urine samples but we decided to contact some companies who produced human glucose monitors to try and streamline the process, and find a way which would be the least invasive for Nala.

"Dexcom, leading providers of this technology, kindly donated the monitor to our charity and we were able to apply it during one of her training sessions, which now allows us to check her blood glucose levels through an app remotely.

"Due to her lovely personality, Nala is the ideal candidate for this technology which helps us, and her amazing team of keepers, manage her condition in the best possible way."

Giant anteater with Type 1 diabetes
Giant anteater Nala, 17, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after exhibiting the same symptoms as humans do. Zookeepers at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland outfitted her with a glucose monitor that's normally used on humans. Matthew Newby, SWNS/Zenger

Produced in association with SWNS.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.