Move over royal baby, there's an infant two-toed sloth in town.
While much of the world appears to be going bonkers for the latest royal baby, the ZSL London Zoo is celebrating an equally impressive birth: A delightfully adorable two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus), born to mom Marilyn.
In true sloth fashion, the pregnancy was a slow one, lasting for almost a year. On the plus-side of such a long pregnancy, however, is that once they're ready to enter the world, baby sloths are already pretty well developed, claws and all.“Sloths have a long gestation period so the infants are already physically well-developed when they’re born. Incredibly, this means they are able to eat solid food right away. The baby is growing fast and is very inquisitive using its nose to sniff around for food,” says ZSL sloth keeper Steve Goodwin. (Note to self: In next life, come back as a sloth keeper.)
The sex of the baby remains unknown, but it has been given the lovely name of Elio, a Spanish name which comes from "Helios the sun god," following the baby's sunset birth.
While I admit that I have long been averse to the idea of animals in captivity in any capacity, given how humankind is absolutely decimating nature and ruining all the natural habitat for creatures like sweet sloths ... what if it comes to pass that zoos are actually the safe places? At the very least, the conversation work that many zoos are doing – at home and abroad – is important. Depressingly enough, over the past few decades conservation through captive breeding has become an important tool for saving threatened species from extinction.
In my "perfect world" scenario, we will WAKE UP and begin the transformative changes required to get our environment back in order. We will rewild all the land we have stolen from nature for agriculture. And maybe even, thanks to the work zoos are doing now, we will still have the animals to repopulate their native habitats.
In the meantime, baby Elio's details will be included in the European Studbook (ESB) as part of a coordinated breeding programme for two-toed sloths. Hopefully one day, this precious baby sloth's descendents will be able to enjoy the slow life in the wild where they belong ... without having to worry about their home being destroyed to make room for cattle grazing.
Anyway. Here is Elio having a first taste of mom's favorite food, steamed carrots. Take, that, royal baby.