Zoo Atlanta keepers arriving to work on the morning of April 29 found a first for the zoo and a critically endangered. Bonnie, a 15 year old Hoffman’s two toed sloth and a 6 year old Eastern Bongo, Matilda both gave birth.
“These are wonderful signs of spring for us here at Zoo Atlanta. On one hand, we have a first in the Zoo’s history with the newborn sloth. On the other hand, we have another birth for a critically endangered species for which every new arrival is a celebration,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO of Zoo Atlanta. “We’re excited about watching these little ones grow and make connections with our members and guests.”
This is Bonnie’s first surviving bub. Unfortunately in 2013 she had a stillborn baby. It is also a first for 22 year Cocoa who is the infant’s father. Male sloths play no role in helping rear the infant but he and 20 year old Okra Mae who also shares their enclosure will remain with her.
This breeding was recommended as part of the Species Survival Plan. Zoo Atlanta Primate Keeper, Lynn Yakubinis chairs the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and runs the studbook for not only the Hoffmann’s two toed-sloths but also the Linne’s two-toed sloths. In their Central and South American homes the Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth is not currently endangered but they are being monitored to make sure habitat loss and human encroachment does not affect them too much.
It takes 11 to 12 months after mating for the young sloth to be born. At birth they are fully furred, with eyes open and they already have teeth. Zoo Atlanta is one of only a few places worldwide which has performed an ultrasound on a sloth.
You can check out the new arrival on Animal Planet LIVE’s Sloth Came here –Sloth Cam
Matilda the bongo also welcomed her calf into the world on the same day. She is an experienced mother having raised four calves so far with mate Tambo. Matilda and her calf are currently spending their time behind the scenes bonding.
Also residing at the zoo is 1 year old Lawson, their previous calf. The other two known as Beauregard and Betty Jean have moved to other zoos.
One day this calf will grow to be one of Africa’s largest antelopes. There are just 500 Eastern bongos roaming through their natural home. Habitat destruction and poaching is making it a very real threat that bongos will go extinct. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) SSP for Eastern bongos recommended the breeding of Tambo and Matilda. Atlanta Zoo supports wild bongo conservation through the Mabel Dom Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund.
The zoo will be announcing soon when visitors will be able to meet the sloth and bongo baby’s.
Photo Credit: Zoo Atlanta