Meet Edward – ZSL London Zoo’s new (and very cute) baby sloth
If, like us, your knowledge of sloths is limited to what you’ve picked up from Sid in the Ice Age films, then help is at hand – ZSL London Zoo has just welcomed a tiny (and real) baby sloth as its newest arrival.
The two-month-old two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus), born to second-time parents Marilyn and Leander, needed a helping hand when his mum stopped producing milk, and was unable to care for her infant. As a result, zookeeper Kelly-Anne Kelleher, with the help of a special teddy-bear, has taken on the role of surrogate mum to the new addition.
Keepers have named the young male Edward after Johnny Depp’s famous character, Edward Scissorhands, due to his impressive claws – which will grow up to four inches in length and enable him to cling on and climb easily through the tree-top branches of his Rainforest Life home.
To help build up the muscles that Edward would normally use holding on to his mum, keeper Kelly-Anne has customised his sloth-teddy with carabiners so that it can be hung from a branch, enabling the youngster to climb on and strengthen his little limbs.
The nocturnal mammals, native to South America, are notoriously slow – that much we do know from Ice Age – and baby Edward is no exception, with Kelly-Anne often having to wait for him to stir from a deep slumber before being able to feed him.
Kelly-Anne said: “We’re bottle-feeding Edward every three hours with goat’s milk, topped up with some vitamins to keep him fit and healthy.
“Just like with human baby formula, we heat it up until it’s at room temperature, and test its warmth on our wrists – it took him a few days to get used to the bottle, but now he’s hungrily suckling as soon as we give it to him.
“If he’s feeling particularly hungry he makes a very funny noise to let us know – a sound somewhere between a squeak and a sneeze, but it’s very loud and he makes his point!”
Keeping detailed records on everything the infant does, from eating to sleeping, zookeeper Kelly-Anne even logs Edward’s potty habits. Sloths leave their high tree-top habitats only once a week to go to the toilet (who knew?), so by keeping track of his poop, Edward’s keepers can account for any weight losses or gains.
A valuable addition to the European breeding programme for his species, Edward’s details will be added to the international studbook, which is shared with zoos around the world.
Entertaining and delighting visitors since opening to the public in 1847, ZSL London Zoo (listed in our Directory here) is both the world’s oldest scientific zoo and one of London and the UK’s most popular paid-for attractions, pulling in over 1.3 million visitors in 2014. With over 800 animal species and a range of exciting and innovative exhibits, it’s little surprise that so many people still see a trip to London Zoo as a great day out, more than a century and a half later.
For information on opening times, how to get there, and to buy your tickets online, head over to the ZSL London Zoo website. For more ideas of what to see, where to stay and how to get around in London, check out our Directory Listings.