The newborn two-toed sloth, nicknamed Nova, is the first animal to be born in 2023 at the London Zoo
There’s a new sloth in town!
On Thursday, the London Zoo announced the birth of its first animal in 2023 — a two-toed sloth born on New Year’s Day.
Before sixteen-year-old mom Marilyn gave birth, she was closely monitored with regular ultrasounds during her 10-11 month pregnancy, the U.K. zoo said in a press release.
Because of a sloth’s long gestation, the nocturnal mammals native to South America are well-developed at birth, so they can eat food and hold on tight to their mother shortly after entering the world.
“We were delighted to finally spot a tiny baby exactly where it should be, clinging onto Marilyn’s tummy, as she curled up in her favorite tree,” sloth keeper Veronica Heldt said of the first time the zoo spotted the baby animal.
“We’ve nicknamed the little one Nova, which means ‘new’ in Latin, as we couldn’t have asked for a better start to the new year,” the zoo shared in its release. The London Zoo won’t know the youngster’s sex until vets confirm it through a DNA test.
Male or female, the newborn is a valuable addition to its species. Once the newborn’s sex is confirmed, its details will be added to the European Studbook, which is part of a coordinated breeding program for two-toed sloths, according to the zoo.
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“Sloth babies are very strong when they’re born and immediately find a comfy spot, hugging mum, which they won’t leave entirely until around 12 months old,” Heldt said. “This enables them to build up the valuable muscles needed to spend life slowly swinging from tree to tree.”
Nova was born with the two-toed sloth’s characteristically impressive claws, which will grow up to four inches in length, the London Zoo said.
Although Marilyn spent her first week with Nova hidden away, the pair are now exploring their exhibit together, so guests of the London Zoo may be able to spot the duo, and sloth dad Leander, during a visit.