There’s some “slow” but exciting news coming from the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden today: Lightning the sloth has given birth to her pup.
The zoo says the pup was born around 7:30 Wednesday night and appears to be healthy, strong and bonding with mom. This pup will be the first sloth baby the zoo team has cared for.
“We are beyond excited that the baby is finally here! We’re ready to provide support to Lightning as she navigates being a mom,” Cincinnati Zoo’s manager of ambassador animals Julie Grove said in a press release.
The zoo team says they were both excited and nervous for the pup’s arrival following Lightning giving birth to a stillborn pup in 2021. To help Lightning prepare for motherhood, the team started placing a tiny stuffed sloth on her and conditioning her to get comfortable with them removing the baby.
“We are monitoring mom and baby closely but remaining hands off for the most part,” said Grove. “Lightning’s maternal instincts are kicking in. We’re seeing all the behaviors that we want to see!”
The sex of the pup isn’t known yet and it may take time to find out, says the zoo. It’s difficult to identify a sloth’s gender and it often requires a DNA test to know for sure. The zoo says the selection of baby names they’re discussing will be announced next week.
The pup’s father, Moe, was moved to the P&G Discovery Forest in the Zoo’s education center after Lightning “entered a cranky phase of her pregnancy and made it clear that it was time to separate,” says the zoo.
Mom and baby will spend time bonding behind the scenes, so it will be a while before visitors can see them, but sloth fans can follow mom and baby updates on the zoo’s social media.
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale. More info: cincinnatizoo.org.
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