A teddy bear and a zookeeper are playing the role of mum for a tiny baby sloth who was recently born at ZSL London Zoo.
The two toed sloth is the child of Marilyn and Leander who have bred before. Currently he is seven weeks old. Unfortunately soon after birth Marilyn stopped producing milk and it became essential for the sloths survival that keepers step in.
Normally the young sloth would build up his muscles as he clung on to mum while she climbed through the trees of their Rainforest Life home. Keepers have modified a teddy bear with some carabineers and hung it from a branch which makes the perfect substitute so this little one can grow up to be big and strong.
To cling on the young sloth is equipped with an impressive set of claws which will eventually grow to four inches (10.6cm) long. As a result keepers have chosen the name Edward for him after the Johnny Depp character Edward Scissor hands.
Of course Edward is living up to the sloths lazy reputation with keepers regularly having to wake him so that he can receive his food.
Keeper, Kelly-Anne Kelleher, who is raising Edward, explained, “Just like with human baby formula, we heat it up until it’s at room temperature, and test its warmth on our wrists – it took him a few days to get used to the bottle, but now he’s hungrily suckling as soon as we give it to him.”
“If he’s feeling particularly hungry he makes a very funny noise to let us know – a sound somewhere between a squeak and a sneeze, but it’s very loud and he makes his point!”
Sloth milk isn’t readily available though so Kelleher explained that he is fed with, “goat’s milk, topped up with some vitamins to keep him fit and healthy,” every three hours.
Two toed sloths come from South America’s rainforest which is quickly disappearing. Edward will become a valuable part of the European breeding program for his species into the future.
First keepers are just making sure he remains fit and healthy. One interesting way he is monitored his by counting his poop as sloths will only need to use the toilet once a week.
Photo Credit: London Zoo