Very Cute Breaking News: Cincinnati Zoo to Welcome its First Baby Sloth

This fall, the zoo's sloth duo Lightning and Moe will bring a sweet little sloth pup into the world.

click to enlarge Lightening the sloth - Photo: Provided by Cincinnati Zoo
Photo: Provided by Cincinnati Zoo
Lightening the sloth

In need of some wholesome zoo news?

The Cincinnati Zoo announced that it's looking forward to welcoming its baby sloth this fall. 

Sloth duo Lightning and Moe are awaiting the birth of their sloth pup in September or October.

Expectant mother sloth, Lightning, came to the Cincinnati Zoo in 2019, 13 years after dad, Moe, arrived in 2006.

While the sloth parents didn’t experience love at first sight, they slowly but surely grew closer (over the course of eight years) and are now expecting their first sloth pup this fall.

“We are so excited that Lightning is pregnant! The sloth animal care team has been on this journey since 2016 and now we are so pleased to bring our sloth fans along for the rest of the ride and into this new baby’s life,” says Sarah Swanson, Cincinnati Zoo’s interpretive animal team leader. 

A sloth’s gestation period is 10-months and Lightning has cleared her first trimester. The ultrasound from the week of February 15 showed a spine, head, arms, leg and a heartbeat. Just like with human babies, Lightning’s care team will conduct ultrasounds throughout her pregnancy to check on the well-being and growth of the sloth pup. 

“We are always cautiously optimistic with first-time moms, but we are fairly confident that Lightning’s assertive personality will lend well to being a first-time mom,” says Swanson. Once the new sloth pup is born, the majority of parenting falls into Lightning’s hands. “It will latch on to her and stay attached for the next 10-12 months. Dad’s contribution is genetics,” says Swanson.

Both Lightning and Moe are Linne’s two-toed sloths, with Moe being heralded as especially important. As a young sloth Moe was orphaned in the wild before being brought into the care of humans. This makes Moe’s genetics valuable because of their direct connection to the wild. While two-toed sloths are not yet considered to be endangered, humans are getting closer and closer to crossing that line. 

To contribute to the protection of Lightning and Moe’s relatives, The Sloth Institute takes donations to fund its efforts in protecting the sloths that live in the Costa Rican Rainforest.

The Cincinnati Zoo is offering discounted admission through March 12 and opens daily at 10 a.m. Reservations and masks are required.  

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