London Zoo shares photo of sloth cuddling her baby

Sloth mum Marilyn with baby Nova at London Zoo (London Zoo )
Sloth mum Marilyn with baby Nova at London Zoo (London Zoo )

Zookeepers at London Zoo have shared photographs of a two-toed sloth cradling her three-month-old baby.

London Zoo’s Marilyn gave birth to her eighth baby, Nova, on New Year’s Day. Since then the tiny sloth has developed well and has grown fast, keepers said.

Sloth-keeper Veronica Heldt said: “Like all new mums will attest to...personal space does not exist with a newborn. Since Nova’s birth, mum and baby have been inseparable.”

Ms Heldt said that baby sloths cling to their mother’s stomach for a year until they are “strong enough to swing solo”.

Nova was born on New Year's Day. (PA)
Nova was born on New Year's Day. (PA)

They also learn from their mothers about the best foods to eat, she added.

“The parent-child relationship is really important to baby sloths’ development,” Veronica said.

“Nova is already picking up important skills and behaviours from Marilyn, learning what’s best to eat, for example – steamed parsnip is a particular favourite at the moment.”

Despite sloths’ placid reputation, keepers have spotted the young sloth’s cheeky side, catching Nova taking food straight out of mum’s claws.

She’s the eighth baby born to Marilyn at the ZSL conversation zoo, as part of a European breeding programme for the species.

Apart from Nova, all her babies have grown up and flown the nest, moving to other conservation zoos across Europe after being matched with the perfect mates.

ZSL conservationists are working with the critically endangered pygmy three-toed sloth on Escudo Island, off the coast of Panama, to track their range and the threats they’re facing in their sole island home.

Marilyn and her baby Nova. (London Zoo)
Marilyn and her baby Nova. (London Zoo)

Sloths have evolved for millions of years in a relatively stable climatic environment and are vulnerable to even small changes in temperature and weather - unlike many other mammals, sloths are unable to regulate their own body temperature, and so are particularly threatened by the global issue of climate change.

As well as working on the ground to protect threatened species around the world, scientists and conservationists from ZSL, the conservation charity behind London Zoo, are urging world leaders to tackle biodiversity loss and climate change in unison in order to save our planet.

Visitors to London Zoo can hang out with Marilyn and Nova and Sumatran tiger Gaysha and cubs Crispin and Zac, as well as many more zoo parents and youngsters, as they explore the iconic London Zoo.