A baby sloth born less than a month ago is receiving specialized care at Brevard Zoo after its mother rejected it.
The young Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth, or southern two-toed sloth, was taken into specialized care after its mother, Tango, showed a lack of interest in caring for it, said Alyssa Simon.
As one of the sloth's primary caretakers, Simon said she and other staff members watched the infant throughout the day on May 12 when it was born, then made the decision to separate it when Tango wasn't feeding it and caring for it.
After providing it with the care it needed, they attempted to reunite the pair the next day. The attempts that day were unsuccessful, and the team made the decision to hand-rear the infant.
In specialized care, the sloth is bottle-fed goat's milk every three hours, and the staff provides it with stuffed animals to cling to as it would its mother, zoo officials said.
At less than a month old, the staff has not chosen a name for it yet, and they do not know its sex.
A group of zoo staff members, including Simon and the zoo's curator, Lauren Hinson, will continue to care for it until they determine it ready to be placed in a public enclosure within the zoo. Simon said this could take months.
"It'll be a while, because she's just so small," Simon said.
She said she thinks the sloth will thrive despite its rough start to life.
"She's doing great behind the scenes, and hopefully she'll continue to do well," she said.
This sloth is not the zoo's first infant sloth to be raised in specialized care.
In 2018, Tango gave birth to Lorenzo and showed a similar lack of interest in caring for him. Zoo staff made the decision to hand-rear him.
Simon said he didn't "make his debut" until he was a couple months old, and it wasn't until he was about 8 months old that he was transferred to an enclosure viewable to the public.
"Lorenzo is doing wonderfully," Simon said. "He is a very happy sloth. He is thriving, and I anticipate the same for his little [sibling]. I think they're both going to be great."