A baby Linné’s Two-toed Sloth recently received its first health check at the San Diego Zoo!
The baby was born October 12 and now weighs 1.43 pounds (.65 kilograms). Staff also saw four teeth during the exam. According to the Zoo, it is difficult to determine the sex of a sloth at this age, so a hair sample was sent to a lab for analysis, to determine if the baby is male or female.
Zoo visitors may have trouble catching a glimpse of the baby, as it is typically found clinging to its mother, Consuelo, in their nesting box at the Zoo’s Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey Sloth habitat.
Sloths may begin eating solid foods as early as four days old, but they also continue to nurse until they around four months old (typical weaning age). San Diego Zoo keepers report that their new baby is eating solid foods and has a preference for apples.
To acclimate the baby to being handled for routine health checks and veterinary exams (as part of overall animal welfare), keepers have a plan to work with the baby and the mother on a regular basis. So far, Consuelo has been attentive, but calm, when the keepers hold and interact with her baby.
Because Sloths are nocturnal, Zoo guests might not be able to see the new family. However, animal care staff have observed that the baby is becoming more independent and is starting to venture away from Consuelo, so staff suggest that guests may have a better chance of seeing the baby if they stop by the exhibit closer to dusk.
Linné’s Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus didactylus), also known as Southern Two-toed Sloth, Unau, or Linnaeus's Two-toed Sloth, is a species from South America. It is native to Venezuela, the Guyanas, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil--north of the Amazon River.
The species has a ten-month gestation period. Their inter-birth rate extends past sixteen months (so there is not an overlap of young to care for). There is generally only one offspring per litter, and the young typically become independent at about a year old.