ZSL London Zoo celebrates the birth of an adorable baby two-toed sloth. Amazing footage captured by zookeepers shows the youngster and mum are doing well and love hanging out together.
Born on Monday 12 February after almost a year-long pregnancy, eager keepers finally spotted the newborn two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus) being cradled by mum while on their morning rounds.
ZSL sloth keeper Steve Goodwin said: “We saw two big brown eyes peering out through mum’s fur and on closer inspection we were delighted to see a healthy-looking youngster tucked into her tummy.
“Sloths have a long gestation period so the infants are already physically well-developed when they’re born. Incredibly, this means they are able to eat solid food right away. However, juveniles tend to stay with their mother for around 12 months before leaving their side - they’re a very ‘clingy’ species in general; to trees and to their mum.
“This means that unlike mothers all over the country, Marilyn certainly won’t be getting a break this Sunday!”
Keepers won’t know the youngster’s sex until it is scanned by vets, as there aren’t many obvious external differences between males and females. Boy or girl, the newborn is a valuable addition to its species and once its sex is confirmed, its details will be added to the European Studbook (ESB), part of a coordinated breeding programme for two-toed sloths.
In the meantime, keepers are keeping a close eye on both Marilyn and her one-month-old baby, who they’ve nicknamed Lento, which means ‘slow’ in Spanish.
“Marilyn is doing an excellent job as a mum,” says Steve. “The baby is growing fast and is very inquisitive – we’ve spotted some brave attempts to clamber over mum’s head, using her as a climbing frame and grabbing at the trees!”
The nocturnal mammals, native to South America, may be notoriously slow but they are impressive climbers - holding on to its mum will enable the infant to build up the valuable muscles needed to climb easily through the tree-top branches of its Rainforest Life home.
The youngster was also born with the two-toed sloth’s characteristically impressive claws, which will grow up to four inches in length and also help when the youngster is ready to move from tree to tree on its own.
Visit Marilyn and the whole incredible sloth family at ZSL London Zoo’s Rainforest Life this Easter while journeying through the Zoo’s brand new Superpowers Trail!