A baby Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloth arrived at the National Aviary last week, and guests can get “up close and fuzzy” with the new arrival when he begins his role as an animal ambassador.
Born October 31, the baby Sloth is about 10 inches long and weighs about two pounds. He’s already weaned from his mother, and the staff is feeding him every two hours. He gets a daily check from the veterinary staff and daily weigh-ins to make sure he’s adjusting well to his new home.
The little Sloth does not yet have a name, but aviary staff will give the public an opportunity to suggest names in a few weeks.
Dr. Fish, the aviary’s Director of Veterinary Medicine, says, “All baby Sloths stop nursing at around one month old. He is very strong, eating well, and meeting all his landmarks for a three-month-old Sloth. This age is the ideal time [to introduce him to our staff] because he is old enough and can start to bond with his caregivers. It is similar to puppies being adopted at 8 weeks old.”
Keepers will begin teaching the Sloth to interact with people by using positive reinforcement and enrichment. He will be able to choose his behaviors and be rewarded for positive actions. In a few months, the baby Sloth will participate in daily encounters with aviary guests.
Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloths are native to South America, where they spend most of their lives in the rain forest canopy. They are well-known for being slow-moving, a trait which is linked to their diet. The leaves and buds that Sloths consume provide very little energy or nutrients and can take a month or more to digest. Huge hooked claws are just right for hanging from tree branches. Sloths descend to the ground only about once a week for toileting. Otherwise, they eat, sleep and even have their babies while hanging from tree branches.
See more photos of the baby Sloth below.