Lincoln Park Zoo, in Chicago, Illinois, has announced a new arrival. A Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth was born on July 25, at the zoo’s Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House!
The sloth infant joins its 21-year-old mother, Hersey, and 32-year-old father, Carlos, on exhibit at the zoo. The sex and measurements of the newborn are yet to be determined, as the baby is clinging tight to Hersey. The sloth baby is a part of the Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth Species Survival Plan, which cooperatively manages the accredited zoo population. The baby sloth is the first offspring of this breeding pair.
“The sloth infant appears healthy and is passing critical milestones such as nursing regularly and clinging well to mother,” said Curator Diane Mulkerin. “Hersey is a first-time mother and is being very attentive to her new young.”
The sloth infant, Hersey, and Carlos can be seen on exhibit daily at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Regenstein Small Mammal Reptile House from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sloths are nocturnal so the infant and mother can be seen curled up in the canopy throughout the day and are more active towards the evening.
Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) is a species of sloth from Central and South America. It is a solitary, largely nocturnal and arboreal animal, found in mature and secondary rainforests and deciduous forests. The common name commemorates the German naturalist, Karl Hoffmann.
The species is often confused with its relation, the Linnaeus’s Two-Toed Sloth, which it closely resembles. The primary difference between the two species relate to subtle skeletal features; for example, Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth has three foramina in the upper forward part of the interpterygoid space, rather than just two, and often has fewer cervical vertebrae.
Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloths have large hooked claws that help the species hang from treetops in the canopies of tropical rainforests. On average, these sloths weigh around 12 pounds and can reach 27 inches in length and spend nearly all of their time upside down in treetops.
Gestation for this sloth lasts between 355 and 377 days, generally resulting in a single birth. Birth takes place on either the ground or from the hanging position. Newborns weigh between 12 and 16 oz. (340 to 454 g) and are precocial, already possessing long claws, enabling them to cling to mothers’ undersides. The young begin taking solid food at 15 to 27 days, and are fully weaned by 9 weeks. Although relatively quiet as adults, young sloths make loud bleating calls if separated from their mother.
Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, habitat destruction is causing a noted decrease in the wild population.