Celebratory birth as it comes after mom Lightning gave birth to a stillborn pup in 2021
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has welcomed a Linne’s two-toed sloth baby who was born on June 7, 2023. The healthy, strong pup is bonding with 10-year-old mom, Lightning, out of visitors’ view.1 This birth comes after in 2021 when Lightning birthed a stillborn pup,2 so the sloth care team was excited yet nervous.
“This is the first sloth baby that our team has cared for,” said Cincinnati Zoo manager of ambassador animals Julie Grove, in the release.1 “We are beyond excited that the baby is finally here! We’re ready to provide support to Lightning as she navigates being a mom.”
“We are monitoring mom and baby closely but remaining hands off for the most part,” added Grove. “Lightning’s maternal instincts are kicking in. We’re seeing all the behaviors that we want to see!”1
The sloth care team has been putting a tiny stuffed sloth on Lightning throughout the last few weeks to acclimate her to them removing it so she would be more at ease when they would handle the actual baby.
Currently, the infant’s sex is unknown as it is challenging to identify the gender of a sloth and typically requires DNA testing.1 Baby names are being considered and the zoo will announce what name they choose next week.
At around 10 days old, the pup will begin to sample solid foods and continue to nurse for about a month. Then, the sloth will cling to its mother’s belly and eat what it likes. It first hangs upside down on its own at 20 to 25 days.1
The baby sloth’s father is 23-year-old Moe, who was transferred to the P&G Discovery Forest in the zoo’s education center “when Lightning entered a cranky phase of her pregnancy and made it clear that it was time to separate.”1
Currently not considered endangered, Linne’s two-toed sloths are becoming more vulnerable because of human encroachment and activity.1 Funds made through Cincinnati Zoo’s private sloth encounters are used to care for Moe and Lightning and support conservation partner The Sloth Institute and its efforts to protect sloths in the Costa Rican Rainforest.