Cincinnati Zoo expecting first sloth pup this fall

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden announced that 8-year-old Linnes' two-toed sloth Lightning is expecting her first pup this fall on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.
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The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden announced that 8-year-old Linnes' two-toed sloth Lightning is expecting her first pup this fall on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.

The baby would be a first for the zoo and first pup for Lightning and Moe

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is hoping to hit a new milestone this fall with the birth of its first sloth pup.

The zoo announced Wednesday that Linne’s two-toed sloths Lightning, 8, and Moe, 21, haven’t been socially distancing during the pandemic and are expecting their first pup together.

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“We are so excited that Lightning is pregnant! The sloth animal care team has been on this journey since 2016 and now we are so pleased to bring our sloth fans along for the rest of the ride and into this new baby’s life,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s interpretive animal team leader Sarah Swanson. “Patience is a must when you work with sloths! They have a 10-month gestation period, and we’re only through the first trimester.”

The zoo shared the big news during an ultrasound on a Home Safari Facebook live.

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Based off the ultrasound, the pup is expected to be born in September or October. An ultrasound last week showed the pup’s head, spine, arms, legs and heartbeat, according to the zoo.

“We are always cautiously optimistic with first-time moms, but we are fairly confident that Lightning’s assertive personality will lend well to being a first-time mom,” said Swanson. “She will do most of the work once the baby is born. It will latch on to her and stay attached for the next 10 to 12 months. Dad’s contribution is genetics.”

It wasn’t love at first sight for Lightning and Moe, the zoo said. Lightning was introduced to Moe in December 2019 after she was brought to the Cincinnati Zoo on a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan. The pair now spend most of their time together.

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Moe came to the Cincinnati Zoo after he was orphaned in the wild. Because he is directly from the wild, his genetics are considered to be very valuable in helping increase genetic diversity in the species survival plan, according to the zoo.

The Linne’s two-toed sloth is not endangered but is becoming vulnerable due to human encroachment. The Cincinnati Zoo raises money to care for Moe and Lightning and for its conservation partner The Sloth Institute through private sloth encounters.