If you think baby animals are cute, you are in for a treat—we have welcomed our first ever sloth baby! The newborn made their appearance on Wednesday, October 17 around 5 p.m. The as-yet-unnamed Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth is the offspring of five-year-old Tango and 15-year-old Dustin.
After finding the baby away from Tango and unsuccessfully trying to reunite them, we made the decision to have Lauren Hinson, the Zoo’s curator of animals, hand-raise the sloth. Tango is a first-time mother whose inexperience likely led her to not care for the little one. After multiple tries to get the newborn back onto their mother, Tango was neither nursing nor wanted the baby on her.
Fortunately, Hinson stepped in to provide round-the-clock care for the sloth, who is fed goat’s milk every two and a half hours. The Zoo employee even takes the baby, who weighed just 11.2 ounces at birth, home with her to ensure it is fed around the clock. Hinson expects to provide substantial care for the sloth for at least five months, after which the weaning process will begin.
The little guy is in good hands, as it was also Hinson who hand-raised red kangaroo Lilly in late 2016. The marsupial was given round-the-clock care for five months and now lives happily with the rest of our kangaroo mob in Lands of Change: Australia and Beyond.
Because the sloth is inclined to cling onto their mother, animal care staff gave the baby its choice of materials to hold onto while they are hand-reared. Funnily enough, the little guy chose a sloth stuffed animal from the Zoo’s gift shop!
The newborn’s sex is unknown at the time as laboratory testing is sometimes needed to determine the sex of sloths. Linnaeus’s two-toed sloths are known for their slow-paced lifestyle and face their biggest challenges from habitat loss and the exotic pet trade in central and South America.