Baby Sloth Cuddles With Furry Friend
A baby Two-toed Sloth at the London Zoo has two special friends: a zoo keeper and a stuffed toy Sloth to cuddle with.
The baby, born in June to second-time parents Marilyn and Leander, needed a helping hand when his mother stopped producing milk and was unable to care for her infant.
Keepers have named the young male Edward after the character Edward Scissorhands, due to his impressive claws, which will grow up to four inches in length and enable him to cling on and climb easily through the trees in his habitat.
To help strengthen Edward’s little limbs, keepers fitted his Sloth-teddy with carabiners so that it can be hung from a branch, enabling the youngster to cling the same way he would with mom.
Edward gets a bottle of goat’s milk every three hours, but, befitting the notoriously slow nature of Sloths, keepers sometimes have to wait for him to stir from a deep slumber before feeding can begin. When Edward is hungry, he lets keepers know by emitting a loud, sneeze-like squeak.
Detailed records are maintained on everything the infant does, including eating. sleeping, and even Edward’s potty-habits. Sloths leave their high tree-top habitats only once a week to go to the toilet, so by keeping track of his poop, Edward’s keepers can account for any weight losses or gains.
Two-toed Sloths are slow-moving, tree-dwelling, nocturnal herbivores, found in tropical forests in Central and South America. Sloths are strong swimmers and can drop from a tree branch into a river to swim across it. When sleeping, Sloths often curl up in a ball in the fork of a tree.
Black-footed Ferrets Get a Boost
These Black-footed Ferret kits born in 2015 are more than cute -- they represent a breakthrough for this critically endangered species that could benefit rare animals around the world.
In 1981, scientists found only one small wild population of Black-footed Ferrets in Wyoming. Wildlife organizations, including zoos, have since brought this critically endangered species back from just 18 individuals to more than 2,600 in the wild today. This summer, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) broke the genetic bottleneck facing the species by using semen that had been cryopreserved for 10 to 20 years to artificially inseminate live female ferrets. This breakthrough will increase the number of black-footed ferrets born in human care while enhancing genetic diversity within the species.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) developed and oversees the Black-footed Ferret Recovery Program. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP) manages the Black-footed Ferret breeding program with a breeding population composed of about 300 animals. For this study, all the males were managed either at SCBI or at the USFWS National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center. Scientists collected semen samples from adult Black-footed Ferrets that ranged in age from one to six years old. All females were solely managed at SCBI.
Initially, scientists used fresh semen to artificially inseminate females who failed to naturally mate with males, resulting in 135 kits. With just a few founders to rebuild an entire species, early managers of the Black-footed Ferret recovery program knew that genetic diversity could be lost. Loss of genetic variation can lead to increased sperm malformation and lower success of pregnancy over time. Researchers routinely collected and preserved Black-footed Ferret semen for later use as part of standard operating procedures.
Read more about Black-footed Ferret breeding and see more photos below.