A baby sloth was born inside a Texas zoo last month in an event that came as a complete surprise for workers at the facility.
A Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth came into the world on Nov. 17. The baby was born to Sid and Sylvia of the Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo in New Braunfels.
The birth was a shock for staff at the zoo because they did not realize Sylvia was pregnant.
Sloths live a sedentary lifestyle and sleep for about 18 hours a day. Combine that with their thick, wiry fur, and it's exceedingly difficult to spot any outward signs of pregnancy.
“This birth illustrates a massive success in providing the right environment for healthy life in captivity while encouraging natural reproductive behavior,” the zoo said in a statement.
The zoo has also launched a contest to name the infant on their Facebook page.
Breeding among sloths in captivity is not rare, but successful reproduction is also not as common as what zoologists hope for.
The baby sloth has been nursing and will switch to solid foods after about a month. After weaning entirely from the mother’s milk, they will stay tightly wrapped against the mother from between six months to two years.
The zoo will be monitoring the infant’s health by taking its weight daily to make sure it is gaining some bulk.
The zoo says that Sylvia has been a great parent and “has fully embraced motherhood.”
Eventually, the young sloth will become an animal ambassador for its species at Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo.