Although we have had armadillos on and off since our earliest days, they were rarely exhibited; as nocturnal creatures, our guests seldom saw them! Armadillos don’t generally bond well with people, and they can jump, popping 6 feet (1.8 meters) in the air with their strong legs if they want to get away from someone. It takes an especially calm armadillo to make a good animal ambassador.
These days, the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park have three-banded armadillos that serve as excellent animal ambassadors, meeting guests up close and making television appearances.
Humans affect the armadillo in many ways. Some people consider them pests and call exterminators to rid them from their gardens. Armadillos are often run over by cars as the animals cross roads looking for food and new habitat. Many people eat them and use their shells for novelties like purses.
Another growing threat to all armadillos is habitat destruction: all species except the nine-banded armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus are decreasing in population. Five armadillo species are classified as vulnerable.
These animals are truly industrious excavators that are great at digging, serve as excellent insect control, and both confuse and delight most humans who come across them.