But the Buttonwood Park Zoo, in Massachusetts, had extra reason to celebrate recently after a beautiful two-toed sloth was born — the first ever in the zoo’s 127-year history.
The beautiful newborn came into the world on June 22, the zoo announced. The first-time parents are 12-year-old female Sandy and 20-year-old male Bernardo.
The baby two-toed sloth weighed about 348 grams or .76 ounces. Zoo veterinarians waited six days to perform the examination so the Sandy could spend time with her newborn.
“Since this is Sandy’s first birth, we wanted to give her plenty of space to bond with baby before we performed an examination,” veterinarian Dr. Erica Lipanovich said. “Both baby and mom are doing exceptionally well.”
“Sandy is doing a great job,” added Jessica Martinho, one of the zookeepers who cares for the sloths. “She is sleeping and eating; the baby is nursing – both are doing exactly what they should be doing.”
They have not yet determined the newborn’s sex, which they say can be an “incredibly tricky process” in sloths.
The zoo also said that baby sloths cling closely to their mothers for about a year, however they’re also born wide awake and able to climb.
The zoo is part of the Species Survival Plan, which manages the sloth’s zoo population while also helping the conservation of the species in the wild. Two species of sloth are currently listed as endangered or vulnerable, as their tropical rain forest habitats are often under threat of deforestation.
The newborn and its parents are of a species of sloth called Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth, which is currently listed as of “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List with no extinction threats on a global level, but the zoo says that their populations are in decline due to habitat degradation, and they are sometimes hunted or illegally sold as pets.
But the zoo hopes that adorable sloths like this newborn will help bring the public’s attention to conservation efforts.
“Sloths are one of the most popular species at the Zoo and bringing additional awareness of these unique, fascinating animals will help further educate our audience to the importance of conserving wildlife,” BPZOO Director Keith Lovett.
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