NORFOLK, Va. — We all love it when a new baby animal is born at the Virginia Zoo and staffers just announced a brand new edition to the park!

Malassada, a female, the three-banded armadillo was born in November 2019 to 16-year-old dad Vigo and 4-year-old mom Izel.

Staffers call her "Molly" for short. They say her birth was the result of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan where her parents were paired in order to keep Molly's species alive.

Three-banded armadillos are native to grasslands in South America. They are the only armadillo species that can completely roll into a ball. They have unique adaptations to protect them against predators, including a hard outer shell made up of bony plates covered by thick, hard skin.

three-banded armadillo virginia zoo
Virginia Zoo

The only armadillo species in North America is the nine-banded armadillo. There are about 20 different armadillo species found in the Americas.

As for Molly, staffers say she'll likely contribute to the Species Survival Plan one day in the future. She was three ounces when she was born, and now she's 1.5 pounds.

malassada molly and izel three-banded armadillo virginia zoo
Virginia Zoo

She's continuing to nurse and explore with her mom as well as take naps. She and her parents live behind the scenes as ambassador animals in the Program Animals Building.

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