ZSL London Zoo has welcomed its first ever baby sloth, after a very surprise pregnancy.
Zookeepers were dealt a huge surprise in the Rainforest Life exhibit when female sloth Marilyn was found to be pregnant – as they didn’t even know the male and female had mated.
Male Leander arrived from Germany at the end of 2012 to be paired with ZSL London Zoo’s resident female Marilyn, but despite their ploys to get the pair together, keepers had no idea that the sloths had even acknowledged one another, let alone successfully mated.
However, it would appear that after hours, when away from the watchful eye of zoo staff, the pair had, quite obviously, hit it off.
Two-toed sloths have been known to take almost a decade to form a pair bond and mate, but factoring in Marilyn’s estimated 11-month gestation period, it took the Zoo’s frisky pair just six months.
Zookeeper Tegan McPhail said: “To say we were surprised when Marilyn fell pregnant is something of an understatement – we weren’t aware that she’d even been near the male.
“When Leander arrived at the Zoo at the end of 2012, he and Marilyn just didn’t appear particularly interested in each other, but we knew that with sloths these things can take some time.
“However, with the arrival of the first sloth to be born at ZSL London Zoo, it appears that it was all an act on their behalf and our two very sneaky sloths were getting amorous behind our backs!”
The new arrival is spending its days clinging tightly on to mum, who is taking motherhood in her stride and proudly showing off her bundle of joy to visitors in in the Amazonian rainforest exhibit.
Yet to be sexed, keepers won’t know if the baby is a boy or girl until it is scanned by vets as there are no external differences between males and females, but once confirmed the youngster’s details will be added to the studbook for the European breeding programme of two toed sloths.
Visitors can see the baby with mum and dad in ZSL London Zoo’s Rainforest Life exhibit.