The sloth infant born in April at Amersfoort Zoo is a male. The tenth baby for mother Amaka and father Quasimodo makes them the most successful sloth couple in Europe. “With sloths it is very difficult to tell whether it is a male or female. DNA testing provides the answer," says animal caretaker Christel Broekman. “We named the youngster Diego. We think the Spanish name is very appropriate for the sloth that occurs in the wild in Latin America.”
It's hard to tell the sex of a sloth from the outside because they have no clear sexual characteristics. To determine the sex, a hair is taken from the baby, from which the DNA is read. This hair was sent to Gendika, a laboratory for genetic research. “Now that Diego is independently exploring the enclosure and is no longer always lying on his mother's stomach, we were able to remove a hair. The mother is very protective of the young at first. We want to avoid unrest, so we waited for him to investigate independently," explains Christel. It is important to know what the sex is, so that the young can be registered within EAZA, the European association of zoos. To maintain a healthy population, affiliated European zoos exchange animals with each other. Now that we know it's a male, a suitable place can be found for him, but for now Diego will stay with his parents.
Diego lives with his parents in the nocturnal animal enclosure in Amersfoort Zoo. That is why the day and night rhythm in this enclosure has been reversed, so that visitors can still admire the young sloth and the other night owls during the day. Sloths move very slowly and hang upside down from the trees. So look up if you want to spot Diego and his parents”, Christel advises.