News & Politics

The National Zoo Is Now Home to Two Screaming Hairy Armadillos, Possibly the Best-Named Species Ever

Photograph via Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Need a break? Yeah you do. So meet the Smithsonian National Zoo’s first-ever screaming hairy armadillos, a pair of pups who instantly vaulted to the top of the list of zoo animals with the best common name when they were born August 11. (Go ahead: try to beat it.)

The two armadillos—who are not yet hairy or screaming—are the offspring of adult armadillos named Amber and Dylan Walter. The parents were recommended to breed according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Screaming Hairy Armadillo Species Survival Plan. The species, which is native to Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay, is listed as one of “least concern” by International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The newborn pups have still not opened their eyes, and it’s still too early for zoo staff to determine their gender, but they have started to sprout very fine hairs on the bony plates that serve as a kind of body armor. Screaming hairy armadillos are the smallest of the three known species of armadillos, but they get their name from their hirsute bodies and the high-pitched squeals they emit as defense mechanisms.

The pups will go on display once they have grown a bit more and become accustomed to their habitat, the National Zoo says in a press release. And, hopefully, they will get names as metal as their species name demands.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.