The Denver Zoo is expecting a new baby sloth!
The sloths are located in Bird World. The outside of the building doesn’t look too special, but the inside is a South American paradise.
The sloths are inside Bird World is because it already has trees for the birds who live there, so the sloths can just climb up and make themselves comfortable. Also, the rooms are very humid so that it models a rainforest. This makes the sloths more comfortable than if they were to be in an outdoor exhibit because their native countries only have one season.
On the day that we went, the sloths were up in the trees. They were hard to spot, so we had to look up high. There we saw Charlotte, Elliot, and Baby Ruth. Zoo Keeper Anton Morrison explained to me the ways that the Denver Zoo will care for the second baby.
Charlotte and Elliot, the Linne’s two-toed sloths (one of the seven sloth species still alive), already have one sloth named Baby Ruth. This will help with the birth of the second baby because the keepers now know how the birth will go over.
There is not a specific mating season for sloths. The keepers find out if a sloth is pregnant using an ultrasound. To get the sloth to come down, each day they train the sloths using positive reinforcement. If the sloth responds well to the training, they are rewarded with fruit or sweet potatoes. If they don’t, they just ignore it and try again.
The zoo has cameras around the room. Sloths are nocturnal, so these cameras can see in the dark. Most sloths give birth at night, but Baby Ruth was born in the middle of the day.
For Baby Ruth’s birth, they shut down Bird World and all the keepers were there to help. Charlotte is an experienced mother and was able to do it on her own. All the keepers need to do is stay there in case something goes wrong.
Sloths stay in their mother’s stomach for ten months. Sloths don’t have any genitalia, so they do a DNA test using fur to determine the gender. Those results take a few weeks to come in.
When a baby is born the keepers will make sure that everything is happening naturally. If they have to take Elliot out of the room so that the baby can bond with Charlotte, they will.
For another sloth to be born, the first sloth has to be independent. Now, one year- old Baby Ruth will be okay if Charlotte spends time with the new baby. Anton says that the Denver Zoo’s hope for Baby Ruth is that she will become a mother of her own, at our zoo or possibly another.
The baby is expected between now and March. This February the tickets are half off if you order online. So, I suggest you buy a ticket and head over to see the gem of Bird World soon!