Rocket Man Touches Down at Sacramento Zoo

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Shani, a six-year-old Masai Giraffe at the Sacramento Zoo, gave birth to a healthy 163-pound male calf on April 10.

The calf has been given the name Rocket. Zookeepers chose the name based on his playful personality and "on-the-go" attitude.

Currently, mother and son spend most of their time behind-the-scenes in the barn, bonding, with periodic exercise sessions in the side-yard. Rocket is also becoming acquainted with his herd-mates, or “tower”, as they stick their head over fences or stall doors to inspect him. The calf is also learning to manipulate browse with his long, prehensile tongue, even though nursing is his still his main source of nourishment.

Based on the signs Rocket, Shani, and the rest of the herd are giving, zookeepers anticipate the pair making their public exhibit debut in mid-May. However much like other timelines at the Zoo, staff members confess that everything will be done on mom and the calf’s terms.

In the meantime, Rocket and Shani will have intermittent access to the giraffe barn’s side-yard, where lucky and quiet guests might catch a glimpse of Rocket. Staff report that these viewing areas will continue to remain quiet zones, creating a peaceful environment for the pair until the time that they venture out into the main exhibit.

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4_12998327_10153670295139151_614356241312924161_oPhoto Credits: Sacramento Zoo

 

The Sacramento Zoo is now home to six giraffes: three female Reticulated Giraffes, one male Masai Giraffe (Chifu, the father of the new calf), one female Masai Giraffe (Shani, the mother), and the calf. In 2010, the Zoo completed renovations on the giraffe exhibit that includes a state-of-the-art, heated barn. This is the 19th calf born at the Sacramento Zoo, going back to 1964 when the species was first housed here.

The Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is divided into nine subspecies. There are three subspecies most commonly found in zoological facilities: Reticulated, Rothschild, and Masai.

The Masai Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi), also known as the Kilimanjaro Giraffe, is the largest subspecies and tallest land mammal. It is native to Kenya and Tanzania.

In addition to a difference in size, Reticulated and Masai Giraffes have slightly different spot patterns; a Masai Giraffe's spots are usually darker and irregular in shape.

Gestation is 14 to 15 months with the female giving birth alone in a secluded spot away from predators. When a calf is born, it can be as tall as six feet and weigh 150 pounds. Within minutes, the baby is able to stand on its own.

According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the Masai may be the most populous of the Giraffe subspecies. There is an estimated fewer than 37,000 remaining in the wild, (though recent reports of significant poaching would suggest it likely to be significantly less) and approximately 100 individuals kept in zoos.

Habitat loss, poaching, disease and civil unrest pose the most significant threats to wild giraffe.

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Trouble Comes in…Fours?

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The “cute meter” hit an all-time high the morning of April 18, as the Meerkat mob at the San Diego Zoo showed off four new additions to the family. Mom Debbie gave birth to four adorable baby Meerkats, and the pups have left their den to explore the interesting world above ground.

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4_Meerkat pup Feeding_LGPhoto Credits: San Diego Zoo

 

Animal care staff became excited when they realized Debbie was pregnant with a new litter, and they began to diligently monitor her weight to estimate when the pups would arrive.

In March, Zoo staff noticed Debbie was spending her time underground, indicating it was time to give birth. Normally, Meerkat moms keep their newborns secluded underground for up to a week before allowing them to meet with the rest of the family; however, Debbie surprised everyone by introducing the babies after only three days!

The four youngsters are now regularly out of their den playing, eating and exploring their habitat. Animal Care staff explains that in Meerkat society, everyone has a job, whether it’s being a sentry or babysitting. Now that the pups are old enough, every member of the family (under the direction of Debbie, of course) will provide the babies with important survival training, including the most important Meerkat behavior: digging.

Zoo staff says that, for Meerkats raising new pups, it takes a village—or, in this case, a mob. “The rest of the family, made up of older siblings, is also very involved with raising the pups,” says Liz Johnson, keeper. “They are great babysitters and are constantly checking on them. The pups are very vocal, and their siblings are quick to respond if they call out.”

Although their name may cause some confusion, Meerkats are not cats. The Meerkat, or Suricate (Suricata suricatta), is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family. They are native to all parts of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa.

Gestation for Meerkats is about eleven weeks. In the wild, Meerkats give birth in underground burrows to help keep the newborns safe from predators. To shield the pups from dust in their subterranean homes, they are born with their eyes and ears closed. Meerkat babies are also nearly hairless at birth, though a light coat of silver and brown fur begins to fill in after just a few days.

The babies nurse for about nine weeks, and they grow very quickly. Though they weigh only about an ounce at birth, by six months old, the pups are about the same size as the adults.

These desert-dwellers are highly social critters and live in groups, called mobs, which can include dozens of individuals from multiple families.

Meerkats have scent pouches below their tails and will rub these pouches on rocks and plants to mark their territory. The dark patches around their eyes act to cut down on sun glare and help them see far into the distance.

Meerkats have four toes on each feet and very long, non-retractable claws to help them dig. They can also close their ears to keep dirt out while digging.

As a species they have an interesting feeding approach as they will always maintain visual and vocal contact whilst foraging, with one of the group standing on its hind legs and acting as sentry on the lookout for predators. They feed mostly on invertebrates and plant matter.

They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In the wild, they are present in several large and well-managed protected areas. However, population densities can fluctuate due to predation and rainfall variations.

Wild populations are currently stable. However, over the past couple of decades, movies and television shows have brought Meerkats a lot of attention, with many people wondering if they can keep a Meerkat as a pet. Although they may look cute, Meerkats, like all wild animals, do NOT make good pets, and they are illegal to own without the proper permits and licenses!

San Diego Zoo guests can see mom Debbie, her four adorable pups and the other 12 members of the mob play, nap and eat in their habitat.

*Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.


Roses Are Red…and This Endangered Baby Is Too!

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A highly endangered baby Sumatran Orangutan was born via Cesarean section at the Memphis Zoo on March 19, 2016. The new male is doing well and is being reared by his mother, Jahe (Jah-hay).

To celebrate the excitement of the new addition, the Zoo recently hosted a naming contest via the Zoo’s website, and the winning name is… Rowan (“little red one”)!

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C-sections on Orangutans are rare, with only 18 of the 2,224 births in the International Orangutan Studbook being performed in this manner. Of these, Jahe and baby Rowan will be the ninth pair to survive the C-section birth.

This is the first Sumatran Orangutan birth at the Memphis Zoo since 2004, and to ensure the best possible care for the mother, a human obstetrician, Dr. Joseph C. DeWane, performed the C-section, with assistance from the veterinarian and animal care staff of the Memphis Zoo. At birth, Rowan weighed 5 pounds 4 ounces, which is large for a baby of this species.

"I was honored to be a part of this historic event at the Memphis Zoo,” said Dr. DeWane. “Our community is so blessed to have one of the top five zoos in the country. I know every time I visit the zoo, I will make a special trip to see Jahe and her baby.”     

Due to the mother’s surgery, the Memphis Zoo animal and veterinarian staff hand-reared the baby while Jahe recovered. Staff held and fed the infant around the clock, and spent their daytime hours in the Orangutan building with Jahe, where she could have visual access to baby Rowan. Jahe’s interest in the baby was encouraged and reinforced, and she was allowed to touch and examine him through the mesh as often as she liked while the keepers held him.

After 12 days, Jahe’s incision had healed well, and animal care staff orchestrated an introduction. Jahe immediately picked up the baby, and despite being a first-time mother, held him appropriately and inspected him closely. Animal care staff monitored the twosome around the clock for several days and noted successful nursing within 24 hours. The pair has been inseparable since.

The Memphis Zoo is one of only two institutions that have reintroduced mother and baby less than two weeks after the surgery.

“The baby’s upbringing was only unique in the first couple of weeks. We had to step in temporarily to hand-rear in order to allow Jahe to recover from her surgery,” said Courtney Janney, Curator of Large Mammals. “Once we were sure she was comfortable and healing well, we reintroduced the baby to his mother and she has completely taken over.”

This infant is the first for mother, Jahe, and third for father, Tombak. Jahe (18-years-old) arrived at the Memphis Zoo in 2010. Her name means “ginger” in the Indonesian language. Tombak (33-years-old) arrived at the Memphis Zoo in 1994. His name is derived from a Javanese word meaning “copper.”

This is a significant birth for the Memphis Zoo, and for the greater Sumatran Orangutan population, as only about 200 Sumatran Orangutans are currently on exhibit across the country. The species is listed as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List.

“With just a few thousand of these animals left in wild, this is a momentous occasion,” said Matt Thompson, Director of Animal Programs. “I’m very proud of our animal care team that intervened and saved the lives of both mother and baby. This is truly an event to celebrate!”

Mother and baby are currently resting behind-the-scenes. The new addition is not yet on exhibit.

The Memphis Zoo currently has four Sumatran Orangutans. In addition to Rowan, Jahe, and Tombak, the Zoo also has Chickie, a 38-year-old female. Chickie is named after former U.S. Surgeon General, Charles “Chick” Everett Koop, who operated on her shortly after her birth. Orangutans have been housed at the Memphis Zoo since 1960, with the first Sumatran Orangutan arrival in 1974.

Jahe arrived at the Memphis Zoo from the Toronto Zoo, where she was born. Her mother, named Puppe, still lives at the Toronto Zoo, and was a wild-caught animal. This makes Jahe a genetically valuable animal.

Tombak is also the father of Elok and Indah, two previous offspring who were born in 2004. However, they both had to be hand-reared, and were later sent to the Houston Zoo.

The name Orangutan means “man of the forest;” they are the largest tree-dwelling animal in the world. Because of their arboreal nature, their arm span can reach 7 feet from fingertip to fingertip. There are two subspecies of Orangutans: Sumatran and Bornean. Orangutans have the second longest childhood, first being humans, spending up to eight ears with their mothers and nursing up to 6 years of age.

The Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii) is native to the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.

More adorable pics, below the fold!

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Wallaby Joey Surprises Taronga Zoo Keepers

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Keepers at Taronga Zoo are celebrating the unexpected birth of an endangered Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby – more than a year after its father left the Zoo!

The joey recently started peeking out from mother Mica’s pouch to the surprise of keepers and delight of keen-eyed visitors.

“We weren’t planning for another joey, so it was quite a shock when we started seeing something moving inside the pouch,” said Keeper, Tony Britt-Lewis.

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4_Wallaby Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (10)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo

 

The birth is the result of a phenomenon known as embryonic diapause, which enables certain mammals to extend their gestation period and time the birth of their young.

The reproductive strategy, which is used by a number of marsupial species (including: Kangaroos, Wallabies and Wombats), usually occurs when adverse environmental conditions threaten the survival of the mother and her newborn.

“It’s an interesting survival mechanism that allows the mother to delay the development of the embryo in drought conditions or if she already has a joey in the pouch,” said Tony.

Experienced mother Mica was carrying another joey in her pouch up until August last year, some five months after the only resident male, Sam, had moved to another wildlife park. Keepers suspect that Mica mated with Sam soon after giving birth to the joey growing in her pouch, and the resulting embryo stayed dormant while her pouch was occupied.

Tony said keepers are yet to determine the sex of the surprise joey, but it appears to be very healthy and about six months of age.

“Mica is a confident and attentive mum and her joey looks to be very strong. It shouldn’t be long before we start to see it venturing out of the pouch to take its first wobbly steps,” he said.

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Maned Wolf Pups at Greensboro Science Center

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Greensboro Science Center is excited about the birth of two Maned Wolf pups! The pups, a male and a female, were born on March 7 to mom Anaheim and dad Nazca.

The wolves’ exhibit was closed from mid-February till the beginning of April, in preparation for the birth and to allow the new family to bond.

The pups are now on exhibit, but staff remind visitors to keep in mind that the pups may or may not be visible, depending on whether or not they choose to come out of their den boxes.

The Greensboro Science Center is also excited to announce that the pups now have names! After a contest was conducted via social media, the zoo is happy to introduce…Rio and Rosario.

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4_13047779_10154159763068833_7753853476064369246_oPhoto Credits: Greensboro Science Center

The Maned Wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) is the largest canid of South America. Its markings resemble those of foxes, but it is not a fox (nor is it a wolf), as it is not closely related to other canids. It is the only species in the genus Chrysocyon (meaning "golden dog").

This mammal is found in open and semi-open habitats, especially grasslands with scattered bushes and trees, in south, central-west, and southeastern Brazil, Paraguay, northern Argentina, Bolivia east and north of the Andes, and far southeastern Peru (Pampas del Heath only). It is very rare in Uruguay, possibly being displaced completely through loss of habitat. The IUCN classifies it as “Near Threatened”, while it is considered a vulnerable species by the Brazilian government (IBAMA).

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Rare Banteng Born at Chester Zoo

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A rare Banteng born at Chester Zoo has provided a welcome boost to the conservation of the South East Asian species.

The Banteng is a wild forest-dwelling member of the cattle family. It is listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Its numbers have declined dramatically in the last 50 years due to habitat loss and hunting throughout its native range. Recent estimates suggest there could be fewer than 5,000 left in the wild.

But, in a bid to counteract the worsening threat to their survival, Chester Zoo has joined forces with the wider global zoo community, international conservationists and the Indonesian government to support Banteng conservation in South East Asia.

The coordinated approach to conservation brings together the skills of top zoos (breeding, animal husbandry, veterinary treatment and education) with those of local experts, conservationists and sanctuaries on the ground.

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3_A rare banteng calf, named Jasmine, has been born at Chester Zoo (7)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo’s new female Banteng calf, which keepers have named Jasmine, arrived to mum Pankhuri and dad Gaston. She is the first youngster to be born since the conservation collaboration was formed at the end of March 2016.

Johanna Rode-Margono, the Zoo’s South East Asia conservation field programme officer who is working on the conservation of Asian wild cattle, said, “Zoos from Europe, America and Indonesia, field conservationists and Indonesian government representatives have, for the first time, joined forces in a global collaboration - working together to share expertise and resources for the conservation of Banteng. The new-born calf is a very important step towards a sustainable insurance population of the species.”

Jasmine is one of the first mammals to be born in Chester Zoo’s new Islands Zone exhibit, which showcases threatened species from region of South East Asia. Her arrival means the zoo now has a herd of ten Banteng (four males and six females).

Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals at Chester Zoo, added, “By making sure there is a viable global population of Banteng in zoos, whose genetic diversity represents the genetic diversity in the wild, the global zoo community can play a key role in the conservation of the species. There’s no doubt that zoos are now an important piece of the puzzle in the long-term protection of Banteng.”

“We’re thrilled with our new calf and are pleased to say she is strong and doing extremely well. Hopefully she will draw some much needed attention to these very special animals and help us to highlight the plight of her cousins in the wild. The Banteng is one of the few remaining species of totally wild cattle in the world, and, in the wild, they are hardly ever seen.”

“Sadly the threat of extinction to these magnificent animals is imminent. Banteng are now rarely sighted in Malaysian and Indonesian Borneo where their remaining forest home is fragmented and populations isolated. They’re facing a real battle for their survival as forests across South East Asia are being turned into palm oil plantations and hunting for their horns and meat, although illegal, is rife.”

The Banteng (Bos javanicus) is similar in size to domestic cattle, measuring 1.55 to 1.65 m (5 ft. 1 in to 5 ft. 5 in) tall at the shoulder and 2.45–3.5 m (8 ft. 0 in–11 ft. 6 in) in total length, including a 60 cm (2.0 ft.) tail. Body weight can range from 400 to 900 kg (880 to 1,980 lb.).

In mature males, the shorthaired coat is blue-black or dark chestnut in color, while in females and young it is chestnut with a dark dorsal stripe. Both males and females have white stockings on their lower legs, a white rump, a white muzzle, and white spots above the eyes. The build is similar to that of domestic cattle, but with a comparatively slender neck and small head, and a ridge on the back above the shoulders. The horns of females are short and tightly curved, pointing inward at the tips, while those of males arc upwards, growing 60 to 75 cm (24 to 30 in) long, and being connected by a horn-like bald patch on the forehead.

Banteng live in sparse forest where they feed on grasses, bamboo, fruit, leaves and young branches. The Banteng is generally active both night and day, but in places where humans are common they adopt a nocturnal schedule. Banteng tend to gather in herds of two to thirty members.


Reticulated Giraffe Calf Born at San Francisco Zoo

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The San Francisco Zoo & Gardens recently welcomed a new addition. A female Reticulated Giraffe calf was born April 8 in the Bernard Osher Foundation Giraffe Barn.

Mother, Barbro, and her calf are in excellent condition, and the calf stood up and took her first steps within 30 minutes of birth. She’s already more than six-feet tall!

“It is such a special time when babies are born at the Zoo,” said Tanya M. Peterson, President of the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens. “You can’t help but fall in love with this calf the moment you see her. We are so fortunate to be able to share this exciting news with our community.”

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4_SF zoo giraffe calf 3Photo Credits: Images 1,3,4,5: San Francisco Zoo / Image 2: Marianne Hale

 

The newest arrival joins six other giraffes in the herd. The calf, not yet named, has a two-year-old sister, Sarah. Dad, Floyd, has fathered a number of giraffes at the Zoo.

The Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), also known as the Somali Giraffe, is a subspecies of giraffe native to savannas of Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. Reticulated Giraffes can interbreed with other giraffe subspecies in captivity or if they come into contact with populations of other subspecies in the wild.

The Reticulated Giraffe is among the most well known of the nine giraffe subspecies. Together with the Rothschild Giraffe, it is the type most commonly seen in zoos.

A female has a gestation period of about 15 months and usually has only one young at a time, but a mature female can have around eight offspring in her lifetime. Females return to the same spot each year to give birth. The mother gives birth standing up and the calf falls seven feet to the ground. Calves can weigh up to 200 lbs. at birth and stand as tall as six feet. They are able to stand less than an hour after birth, and they are weaned at around one year of age.

In the wild, giraffes have few predators, but they are sometimes preyed upon by lions and less so by crocodiles and spotted hyenas. However, humans are a very real threat, and giraffes are often killed by poachers for their hair and skin.

Currently, there are thought to be less than 80,000 giraffes roaming Africa, and some subspecies are thought to be almost completely gone, with fewer than 100 individuals. Reticulated Giraffes are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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The Force Awakens…and Explores at Sacramento Zoo!

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On April 3, 2016 the adult pair of Red River Hogs at the Sacramento Zoo welcomed two female hoglets and two males, each weighing between 2 and 2.5 pounds. Inspired by Star Wars, zookeepers have named the two males Poe and Kylo, and the females have been named Finn and Rey.

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3_Red River Hoglets First Exam_4 April 2016_TC (26 of 32)Photo Credits: Sacramento Zoo

 

The quad recently explored their exhibit for the first time with mom and dad. The family has access to their yard and off-exhibit dens.

When fully grown, the hogs will weigh between 120 and 250 pounds and reach three to five feet in length. Until about three months of age, hoglets are brown with yellowish stripes. This coloring serves as effective camouflage in the wild. Adult Red River Hogs are best known for their long ears with hair tufts and reddish-brown fur.

Native to the dense tropical forests of Central to West Africa, localized Red River Hog populations are in decline due to subsistence hunting for food, being killed as agricultural pests, and the commercial bushmeat trade.

The Sacramento Zoo’s participation in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Red River Hog SSP program contributes directly to the species’ long-term survival.

**Zoo fans can become a Red River Hog Zoo Parent for a donation of $80. They will receive a photo of the youngsters, a plush hog, and more! Follow this link for more info: http://www.saczoo.org/page.aspx?pid=296

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“Mary Had a (Very) Little Lamb!”

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A tiny Ouessant Lamb was born earlier this month at Paradise Park in Hayle, Cornwall, UK.

Park Director, Nick Reynolds, commented, “We keep Ouessant Sheep in the Fun Farm here at Paradise Park. As one of the world's smallest breeds, their lambs are very tiny and very cute…hopefully visitors will be able to catch a glimpse of our new arrival.”

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The Ouessant (or Ushant) is a breed of domestic sheep from the island of Ouessant off the coast of Brittany, France. Occasionally called the Breton Dwarf, it is one of the smallest breeds of sheep in the world. Rams are around 49 centimetres (19 in) tall at the shoulder, and the ewes about 45 centimetres (18 in).

Most Ouessant are black or dark brown in color, but white individuals do occur. The rams have relatively large horns, and ewes are polled.

The Ouessant existed exclusively on its home island until the beginning of the 20th century, and it is still a rare breed today.

The breed is primarily used for wool production. In Paris, the city government recently began using a small herd of Ouessant sheep to graze public lands.

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Baby Sloth Worth the Wait

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A baby Sloth born at Great Britain’s Drusillas Park is the first ever born in the zoo’s 91-year history.

The little Linne’s Two-toed Sloth was born to female Sidone and her mate Sophocles on March 26. Zoo keepers had been anxiously awaiting the birth, and were thrilled to find the baby on their early morning rounds.

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Though this species of Sloth is not rare in the wild, births are not common in zoos.  In the past year, only four were born in the United Kingdom and just 27 were born worldwide.

Because Sidone was hand-reared as a youngster, keepers were concerned that she would lack mothering skills.  However, Sidone is proving to be an excellent mother to her new baby.

Sidone and Sophocles were introduced in January 2014, and like all Sloth activities, they took their time getting to know each other.  After a ten-month gestation period, their baby finally arrived.

Linne’s Two-toed Sloths are native to northern South America’s rain forests, where they spend nearly all their lives in the treetops.  Sloths are specially adapted to eat, sleep, and mate while hanging upside-down from a branch.  They descend to the ground only to defecate and move to a tree that cannot be reached from their home tree.