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Sloth baby takes her first steps!

PUBLISHED 14/06/24

Zookeepers praise ‘super sloth dad’ as baby reaches huge milestone in time for Father’s Day

Keepers at Drusillas are praising their ‘super sloth dad’, Sophocles, as his baby takes her first steps just in time for Father’s day!

10-month-old Echo has, until now, spent every day clinging tightly to the belly of her mum Halina, but keepers were delighted to observe Echo climb and hang independently for the first time this week – a huge milestone for a sloth infant, who typically stays on mum for around a year. Keepers caught a few snaps of the little one hanging on her own for a few minutes before she returned to mum’s arms.

Unlike male sloths in the wild, who will typically mate, leave, and have no involvement in an infant’s life, ‘sweet Sophocles’ has been by Echo’s side since day one, even occasionally carrying her like a female would when she was very small, and keepers think his calm presence has helped create a very confident, self-assured young sloth who is developing wonderfully.

Echo is the rainbow baby of Sophocles and Halina, born at the zoo in August last year. In 2022, the pair sadly lost their first-born baby, Athena, at just six months old due to an undetectable intestinal issue. Seeing Echo reach such a key stage in her development feels even more special for keepers after the loss of Athena before she was able to do so.

Head keeper, Gemma Romanis, commented: “We were over the moon to see Echo take her first steps recently, our animals become like second family to us, so we feel just as proud as parents do at moments like this!”

“Reaching a milestone like this with Echo feels all the more meaningful after we lost Athena a couple of years ago. We feel particularly protective of Echo, and it’s been lovely to see that Sophocles feels the same as he’s always nearby and always keeping an eye on her. The three of them all snuggle up together to sleep which is the sweetest sight to see.”

“Her first steps may seem tiny to some, but they are huge to us, as it represents a successful breeding of a species we are especially connected to here at the zoo. She still is spending the majority of her time on mum, but we’ve caught a couple of instances now of her ‘trying out’ her own legs. We expect she’ll start to climb independently more and more in the coming weeks and months as she grows in confidence.”

Although, keepers admit it’s also ‘bittersweet’ to see Echo grow up, as it means it will soon be time for her to leave the Drusillas family to go on and maybe have her own babies. For now she remains a highlight for visitors to the zoo, who delight in seeing her up close in their Rainforest Walkthrough habitat.

As part of Drusillas' commitment to conservation, in particular the conservation of sloths in the wild, we proudly support The Sloth Conservation Foundation (SloCo) in Costa Rica. SloCo are currently embarking on their biggest project to date – the first ever Sloth Census, in an effort to ensure that the conservation status of sloths more closely reflects the threats they face such as urbanisation and the tourism trade. Drusillas ask sloth fans to support their mission in any way they can here

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