ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — Things are moving fast for an infamously slow critter at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo.
On Friday, the zoo announced that – for the first time in its history – a Linneaus's two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus) has been born at the Turtle Back.
Zoo staff offered some more info about the amazingly cute infant, which doesn't yet have a name, in a social media post:
"Our regular visitors may have noticed that our Linnaeus's two-toed sloths have not been on exhibit recently, they were moved to a behind the scenes area as part of a plan to encourage breeding and we can now finally share that it was a success! Our very first baby sloth turns 2-months-old this week.
"Keepers were monitoring the baby along with her parents Boysenberry and Tayberry, closely from the moment she was born. Our goal is always to support mom and baby in any way they need to ensure they can be successful. However, after several days of monitoring keepers became concerned that the baby was not getting enough milk and Tayberry, a first-time mom, was leaving the baby when she was moving around the enclosure. We tried assisting with supplemental fluids, but based on the baby's health and mom's behavior the decision was made to hand rear the sloth baby at our animal hospital.
"Rearing baby animals is no easy task; baby sloths need to be bottle fed every two hours for the first few weeks! Eventually, she will rejoin our sloth group when she is older and will be both an important ambassador animal for her species and hopefully contribute to the Species Survival Program (SSP) by having babies of her own one day.
"Linnaeus's sloths are found throughout the northern countries of South America (Equador, Colombia, Guyana, Venezuala, Peru and Brazil). They are threatened by development and habitat fragmentation and often fall victim to motor vehicles when crossing the road. When their arboreal habitat is fragmented, finding a mate and food sources becomes increasingly difficult, forcing them to continue their search by traveling on the ground and sloth populations have been declining. Preserving the rainforests is key to protecting not just sloths, but so many important species. Our new baby sloth will play an essential role in educating visitors about rainforest conservation."