And now, on the latest episode of I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, meet Sylvia the Linnaeus’s Two-Toed Sloth and her newborn! (Okay, we’re just kidding, but Animal Planet should get on that concept STAT.)
On Nov. 17, the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo in New Braunfels, Texas, welcomed the sweetest little surprise.
The teeny bundle of joy — an as-yet-unnamed, healthy baby sloth who fits in the palm of your hand — was a surprise to animal care staff. A release from the zoo explains that “due to their thick, wiry fur, it is exceedingly difficult to see outward signs of pregnancy” in sloths. Plus, the animals’ sedentary lifestyle and the fact that they sleep up to 18 hours a day also adds to the challenge of detection. That said, the AWSFZ staff are over the moon about the new addition, born to adult couple Sylvia and Sid.
“This birth illustrates a massive success in providing the right environment for healthy life in captivity while encouraging natural reproductive behavior,” states the zoo’s press release.
Currently, staffers are closely monitoring the newborn’s health, weighing the young sloth daily to make sure it’s eating right and growing stronger. Babies typically nurse for about a month before they move on to trying solid foods. Even after weaning off their mother’s milk, sloth offspring “stay tightly wrapped against the mother from six months up to two years,” according to the zoo.
Happily, zoo staff report that “Sylvia is a great parent and has fully embraced motherhood.”
Although he or she (the zoo has not yet announced the baby’s sex) is very small now and all efforts are focused on the little one’s proper care and growth, one day, the newborn will become an AWSFZ animal ambassador, taking part in educational opportunities and eventually becoming part of a future breeding program.
On top of all that goodness, Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo has announced a naming contest for the baby sloth on Facebook. The winner will be announced on Dec. 22 — enter now!