A human pregnancy is approximately 40 weeks, or nine months long. If you thought that seemed like forever and a day, the gestational period for a sloth is about 11 and a half months. That’s how long Sandy, Buttonwood Park Zoo’s very own female Hoffman’s two-toed sloth had to wait to meet her firstborn baby. This little one arrived on Tuesday, June 22. The 12-year-old sloth welcomed the baby with 20-year-old Bernardo, the male Hoffman’s two-toed sloth. According to Buttonwood Park Zoo, this is the first sloth born at BPZoo in its 127-year history.

Dr. Erica Lipanovich is the veterinarian at Buttonwood Park Zoo and examined the baby sloth at six days old.

“Since this is Sandy’s first birth, we wanted to give her plenty of space to bond with baby before we performed an examination,” Lipanovich said. “We were able to quickly examine the baby at six days old, where it weighed in at 348 grams, roughly 0.76 pounds. Both baby and mom are doing exceptionally well.”

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For months, after confirming pregnancy as part of this animal’s regular ultrasound exam training, Zookeepers were carefully monitoring and awaiting this monumental birth, eagerly checking on Sandy every morning. They were ecstatic to discover the tiny baby, born fully eared, eyes open, and able to climb on the morning of its birth.

The baby will cling tightly to its mother’s fur, and young sloths remain near their mothers for around a year. Zoo staff will continue to monitor the baby’s growth with weekly weight checks and will eventually determine the sex, which can be an incredibly tricky process in sloths. Jessica Martinho is one of the Zookeepers who cares for the sloths and she offered an update on the sloth’s status with mom.

“Sandy is doing a great job,” Martinho said. “She is sleeping and eating; the baby is nursing. Both are doing exactly what they should be doing.”

Photo Contributed by Buttonwood Park Zoo
Photo Contributed by Buttonwood Park Zoo

Bernardo, Sandy, and baby are three out of 77 Hoffman's two-toed sloths at 34 AZA institutions. Buttonwood Park Zoo proudly cooperates with other members of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums to manage the zoo population of this species through the Species Survival Plan while enhancing the conservation of this species in the wild.

BPZOO Director, Keith Lovett, is pleased to share this birth with the community. “Sloths are one of the most popular species at the Zoo and bringing additional awareness of these unique, fascinating animals will help further educate our audience to the importance of conserving wildlife.”

BPZOO offers a daily “Keeper Chat”, an opportunity to learn more about these slow-moving animals, at 10 am in Rainforests, Rivers & Reefs. Face coverings are required to enter this building.

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