What’s cuter than a Hoffman’s two-toed sloth? A baby Hoffman’s two-toed sloth, of course — and a zookeeper at Palm Beach Zoo was lucky enough to witness the new sloth mom welcome one into the world on Jan. 23.
The new baby may not have been a surprise, but it was still a welcome sight for both zookeepers and visitors. The sloth mom, named Wilbur, had been moved into a special, climate-controlled space a few weeks ago in preparation for her delivery. Daddy sloth Dustin also has a home at the zoo, but he was allowed to remain in his original habitat. (Sloths have a reputation for being lazy, and the dads don’t do much to help that perception: They play no part in the raising of young, apart from the mating.)
Dustin and Wilbur had been paired up by zoo researchers as part of their Species Survival Plan, a breeding plan that matches the most genetically viable animals in an effort to produce offspring that can help the general population thrive. Hoffman’s two-toed sloths are currently a species of least concern and animal conservationists are hoping to keep it that way.
“We’re excited for guests to witness the development of this unique little baby,” said chief animal conservation officer Renee Bumpus in a press release from the zoo. “In the meantime, Wilbur is very attentive, and the baby will stay closely attached to mom for a while.”
That’s normal behavior for baby two-toed sloths, who will generally stay latched onto their mother for the first five weeks of life. Guests to the zoo can get a look at the new baby in her special nursery, but he or she won’t have a name until zookeepers can determine a gender, which can be difficult to confirm in infancy. In the meantime, the zoo has been posting updates on Wilbur’s baby to their Facebook page, including the heart-melting video above.