Melbourne’s own Brevard Zoo could be setting records in the cuteness department after it’s first-ever Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth was born at the facility last month—and they have the video to prove it.
The sloth’s mother, Tango, delivered the 11.2-pound (approx. 5-kilogram) baby on Oct. 17 at around 5 p.m. The adorable infant is as yet unnamed, as its sex is not yet known. When it comes to sloths, laboratory tests are sometimes needed to determine their gender.
The baby will be raised by hand, as the mother showed no inclination to do so. The zoo’s male sloth, named Dustin, is said to be the father.
“When we found the baby away from Tango, we tried to reunite them,” said zoo curator Lauren Hinson in a press release. “But the new mother was not nursing, nor did she show interest in the newborn. Tango is a first-time mother whose inexperience likely led her to not care for the little one.”
Sloth infants normally cling to their mothers, and so zoo staff allowed the baby to choose from several materials for the one it preferred in place of its mom. Charmingly, the baby chose to cling to a sloth blanket from the zoo gift shop.
— Brevard Zoo (@BrevardZoo) November 8, 2018
Adorable video footage taken by the staff shows the baby being fed goat’s milk, which it will receive every couple hours. The baby will be looked after around the clock by Hinson, and will require considerable care for about five months, at which point the weaning process will begin.
Linnaeus’s two-toed sloths are found in hot, humid rainforests in parts of South and Central America. Although they are tree-dwelling animals, they are not apes, but rather, are more closely related to the anteater, sharing the same order: pilosa. They tend to dwell in areas where there is plenty of vine growth, which allows them to navigate from tree to tree. Sloths currently face challenges such as habitat loss and the exotic pet trade.