This baby sloth at the Memphis Zoo has found an unlikely best friend: A toy elephant.
Lua the two-toed sloth, who was born March 17, is being hand-reared by staff because her older siblings failed to survive infancy.
As she grows, zookeepers are relying on the stuffed elephant to help Lua strengthen her limbs. Whenever they're not holding her, she clings on to the toy, mimicking the same behavior she would use with her own mother.
“We are very excited about the birth of Lua,” said Director of Animal Programs Matt Thompson. “This is a fascinating species and a genetically significant birth. We’re looking forward to this unique opportunity of hand-rearing our little one.”
Lua, who was born to mom Marilyn and dad Sparky, is the first successful Linné's two-toed sloth birth at the Memphis Zoo.
To help her grow strong, staff members bottle-feed her every two hours. She will be fed this way for the next month and will be hand-reared over the next year.
Lua is not yet on display to the public, but visitors can see her parents, who were brought to the zoo in December 2003.