A baby Linné’s two-toed sloth was recently born at the Memphis Zoo, and has a handful of special friends – the Zoo’s animal care staff and a stuffed elephant.
“Lua” (loo-ah), a girl, was born on March 17, 2017 to parents “Marilyn” and “Sparky.” Lua means “moon” in Portuguese. This was the first successful Linné two-toed sloth birth at the Memphis Zoo. Marilyn, Lua’s mother, has birthed other infants in previous years that did not survive infancy, so the decision was made that Lua would be hand-reared.
“We are very excited about the birth of Lua,” said Matt Thompson, Director of Animal Programs. “This is a fascinating species and a genetically significant birth. We’re looking forward to this unique opportunity of hand-rearing our little one.”
When staff is not holding the infant, she clings to a stuffed elephant, which strengthens her limbs. This mimics the same behavior she would use with her mother. Sloths are arboreal, meaning tree-dwelling, and spend most of their time upside down.
Baby Lua is currently not eating solid foods; instead, she’s being bottle-fed every two hours by a member of the Memphis Zoo staff. Sloths are slow growing animals, and as such, Lua will be bottle-fed for the next month. Staff will hand-rear her for the next year.
Luais currently being hand-raised behind-the-scenes. While she’s not yet on exhibit, the public can learn more about her by visiting memphiszoo.org/sloth. Updates will also be provided through the Zoo’s social media pages, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About the Memphis Zoo Sloths
The Memphis Zoo currently has three Linné’s two-toed sloths. Marilyn and Sparky, Lua’s parents, both arrived at the Zoo in December 2003. Both adults were wild-caught animals, making Lua a genetically valuable animal.
Linné’s, or Southern, two-toed sloths have been housed at the Memphis Zoo since 1945. The Zoo also had a Hoffman, or Northern, two-toed sloth in the 1990s, and a pair of three-toed sloths in the 1950s.