Honolulu Zoo welcomes newest member of the family: A baby sloth

Honolulu Zoo welcomes newest member of the family: A baby sloth
The baby sloth quickly latched on to its mother after the birth. (Source: Honolulu Zoo Live Stream)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A baby sloth entered the world Tuesday afternoon at the Honolulu Zoo.

After about an hour in labor, a mother sloth named Harriet gave birth in a secured portion of the zoo. The birth was captured and broadcast live on the zoo’s YouTube sloth cam.

It took place naturally without the assistance of zoo staff, and right away, maternal instincts kicked it. The young southern two-toed sloth baby clinged to its mother, which it will do for a while.

According to sciencing.com, that clingy period could last up to five months for some sloths.

“Baby sloths cling to their mothers’ abdomens until they can hang upside down on their own, which takes about three weeks after they are born,” the website said. Zoo officials also said the baby sloth will likely stay with its mother for nine months to a year.

Mother Harriet is no stranger to the demands of motherhood. According to zoo officials, this is her fourth baby sloth delivered at the zoo with another male sloth named Quando.

Their other sloth children ― Opihi, 3 years old, Akala, 2, and Tommy, just over a year old ― are also on display at the zoo.

Zoo staff said they don’t yet know the gender of the baby sloth, who also doesn’t have a name.

“So far here at the zoo we’ve only had females and so we’re hopeful that we’ll finally have a male," Kelly Reno of the Honolulu Zoo said. “We can probably do our first check maybe around four months or so, and then we’ll do another one a few months after to confirm the sex.”

According to wildlife experts, two-toed sloths are nocturnal and sleep 16 to 18 hours per day. Their diet consists of leaves and fruit.

For the first month or so, zookeepers expected Harriet to stay primarily in her crate with the baby, but there’s still a chance for the public to get a glimpse of her.

“I’d like to say just keep stopping back because you will get an opportunity to see her and if you’re one of the first groups to see her bring out baby, it’s really exciting. People get really excited about it,” Reno said.

A sloth’s average lifespan in the wild is 15 to 20 years, and longer in captivity.

Watch the live sloth cam below. Stream provided by the Honolulu Zoo:

This story will be updated.

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