Brevard Zoo Welcomes A Newborn Baby Sloth, Which Will Be Hand Raised As Mother Refused To Feed It

baby sloth covered in a blanket
Paul Stehlenert / Shutterstock

Florida’s Brevard Zoo announced on Thursday, November 8, that a two-toed baby sloth was born in the zoo last month.

According to a news report by Florida Today, the tiny critter was born at about 5 p.m on October 17, weighing only 11.2 ounces at birth. The baby sloth — which zoo authorities haven’t named yet — was born to Linnaeus’s two-toed sloths of the zoo, Tango and Dustin. The sex of the baby is also not known yet, and the name of the sloth will be chosen after its sex is determined. Zoo officials said that laboratory tests are sometimes required to check whether the sloth is a male or a female.

In the official statement of the zoo, it was announced that it is the first sloth to be born at the zoo. The zoo also announced that the baby sloth will be hand-raised because its mother — Tango — refused to nurse the baby after it was born and showed no signs of taking care of her baby, the report said.

According to zoo curator Lauren Hinson, zoo officials tried to reunite the mother with its baby, but it was all in vain.

“When we found the baby away from Tango, we tried to reunite them. But the new mother was not nursing, nor did she show interest in the newborn. Tango is a first-time mother whose inexperience likely led her to not care for the little one.”

Hinson also said that the zoo is closely monitoring the baby and providing it with “round-the-clock” care. The baby is being fed goat’s milk every two and a half hours. Zoo officials added that the process can take up to five months before the baby sloth can be fed other types of food.

It is also a common behavior among baby sloths to cling to their mothers for a few days after being born. But since Brevard zoo’s baby sloth didn’t have its mother’s attention, it was given a stuffed sloth blanket from the zoo’s gift shop, per Florida Today.

The report further detailed that Linnaeus’s two-toed sloths are native to the rainforests of South America. The species is threatened by habitat loss and the exotic pet trade.

Sloths in captivity sleep from 15 to 20 hours per day, which can leave them very little time for social activities. They are the slowest animals on earth, so much so that algae can grow on their furs, per National Geographic. The algae doesn’t harm the animal, rather it works to the sloth’s advantage by providing it with the ability to camouflage in trees and hide from predators.