Sloth mom and dad Honey and Mervin welcomed the newborn last month

By Benjamin VanHoose
April 09, 2020 03:10 PM
Credit: The Virginia Zoo

These slow pokes sure grow up fast!

On March 8, the Virginia Zoo welcomed its first-ever baby sloth — a bundle of joy for first-time sloth parents Honey and Mervin. According to the zoo, baby two-toed sloths weigh up to 1 pound at birth and come into the world covered in fur, with nails and teeth in place and eyes wide open.

“The infant is doing really well, nursing from mom and eating small bites of cooked veggies from its mom and the keepers,” said veterinarian Colleen Clabbers in a birth announcement on the zoo’s website.

Sleeping most of the day away, the family of sloths are being looked after by staff, as the newborn clings close to its mom.

“From birth, sloth babies learn to hang onto mom’s chest or stomach and will stay out of view to avoid detection from predators,” said Clabbers. “For this reason, and to not disturb the bond between mom and baby, we stay hands-off with the infant unless we have concerns.”

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She added: “Our keepers are monitoring mom and baby’s behavior closely as they bond and are skilled at identifying subtle changes in the animals.”

Have the perfect baby sloth moniker? The Virginia Zoo is currently holding an auction for the naming rights of the new addition, with the highest bidder deciding on its name.

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Credit: The Virginia Zoo

Since the keepers are currently keeping a hands-off approach to the infant, its sex isn’t yet known, so the zoo is encouraging gender-neutral submissions.

Bidding ends on April 21, and out of respect to those affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the zoo noted that no names related to the virus will be accepted, and other inappropriate monikers will also be declined.

Credit: The Virginia Zoo

The auction is for a good cause, as well, with the proceeds benefiting the zoo’s emergency operating fund, which, according to the zoo, helps support operations and ensures that it has the additional resources to go the extra mile for any areas of need during COVID-19 closures.

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