A baby Linné’s Two-toed Sloth at the Memphis Zoo is slooowly stealing the hearts of her keepers and fans, and she’s already made a special friend: a stuffed elephant that she clings to at naptime.
Named Lua, which means “moon” in Portuguese, the female baby was born on March 17 to parents Marilyn and Sparky. Marilyn had delivered other infants in previous years, but her babies did not survive infancy, so the staff decided to hand-rear Lua to ensure her survival.
When the staff is not holding Lua, she clings to the stuffed elephant, which strengthens her limbs and mimics the way baby sloths hold on to their mothers. Sloths spend most of their time upside down, hanging from tree branches in South American rain forests north of the Amazon River.
Baby Lua is bottle-fed every two hours, which will continue for at least a month. Sloths grow slowly and Lua will require help from zoo keepers for about a year. She is currently being cared for behind the scenes.
Both Marilyn and Sparky came into the zoo population from the wild, making Lua genetically valuable.
Linné’s Two-toed sloths, also known as Southern Two-toed Sloths, feed on leaves and other vegetation. They rarely descend to the ground.
See more photos of Lua below.