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Speedy Sloth Birth Surprises ZSL London Zoo Keepers

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: November 10, 2021 12:45 am

Sloth ZSL London Zoo

A two-toed sloth, named Terry by keepers, clings to mother Marilyn at ZSL London Zoo

Photo Credit: ZSL London Zoo

The birth of a two-toed sloth at ZSL London Zoo has surprised keepers with its speed from a species not normally known for doing anything fast.

Keepers arriving to work on Sunday October 24th went to check on Marilyn who was coming to the end of an 11 month pregnancy. She was found snuggled up peacefully in her den with no baby in sight.

They began preparing breakfast for the animals and when they returned an hour later to find she had not only gone in to labor but had finished giving birth.

London Zoo sloth keeper Marcel McKinley said: “We knew Marilyn was coming to the end of her pregnancy, so we’ve been keeping a close eye on her, arranging regular ultrasounds with the Zoo’s vet team and checking every day for signs of the new arrival. 

 

“We looked in on her first thing and there was no baby - and no sign at all that she was labour."  

 

“Less than an hour later I spotted something that looked like a tiny arm, tucked into Marilyn’s tummy; I called the rest of the team to confirm my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me, and they arrived just in time to see her turn around in the tree and give us the perfect view of her healthy newborn - who she’d quietly delivered, with no fuss at all, while we’d been chopping up sweet potato for her breakfast. She clearly took the whole thing in her stride.” 

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Mother Marilyn has welcomed six infants over life. Until now all of them have arrived at night.

Visitors to London Zoo will be able to meet Marilyn and her new arrival in the Rainforest Life habitat. This paradise is heated to 28oC year round and is shared by primates , tree anteaters and tortoises.

Keepers are yet to determine the gender of the infant. This will require an analysis of its DNA. Regardless the new arrival will be an important part of the captive breeding program for its species.

Marcel added: “At two-weeks-old, Marilyn’s little one is doing really well. Two-toed sloths have a gestation period of 10 to 11 months and infants are already physically well-developed when they’re born, meaning they’re able to eat solid food right away.  

 

“We’ve named the youngster Terry, after one of the Zoo’s longest-serving zookeepers – our colleague Terry March, who has devoted his whole life to caring for threatened species and educating the public about wildlife.”  

Learn more about Sloths here – Sloth Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the London Zoo on their website – London Zoo

Sloth ZSL London Zoo

A two-toed sloth, named Terry by keepers, clings to mother Marilyn at ZSL London Zoo

Photo Credit: ZSL London Zoo

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