Buttonwood Park Zoo welcomes baby sloth

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A close-up of a baby Hoffman's two-toed sloth wiping its mouth while buried in the fur of its mother.

(Photo from Buttonwood Park Zoo)

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — After an eleven-and-a-half month gestation, a Hoffman’s two-toed sloth has given birth at Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford.

The infant was born on June 22 to first-time parents Sandy, 12, and Bernardo, 20, at the zoo. The family lives in the Rainforests, Rivers and Reefs exhibit, and the baby is the first Hoffman’s two-toed sloth to be born at Buttonwood in the zoo’s 127-year history.

The baby was already climbing the morning of its birth, according to Dr. Erica Lipanovich, the zoo veterinarian, but will often be clinging tightly to its mother’s fur for its first year of life.

Lipanovich wanted to give the mother some time to bond with the infant before examining it. The baby weighed about three-quarters of a pound — lighter than, say, a can of soda. So far mother and baby are in great shape, according to zookeeper Jessica Martinho.

“Sandy is doing a great job. She is sleeping and eating; the baby is nursing — both are doing exactly what they should be doing,” Martinho said in a news release Monday.

It will take time before the zoo can determine the sex of the baby, zookeepers said, because sloths’ sex organs are internal.

Sandy, her baby, and Bernardo are three out of 77 Hoffman’s two-toed sloths across the 34 institutions in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Sandy, a female Hoffman's two-toed sloth hangs upside down from a tree, looking past the camera at something, while her baby clings to her chest.
(Photo from Buttonwood Park Zoo)

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