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Hattiesburg Zoo releases statement on baby sloth's unexpected passing

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - This is a press release from the Hattiesburg Zoo.

The Zoo’s 20-day-old baby sloth passed away in the early morning hours of Feb. 26, 2017. The baby received around-the-clock care since birth from the zookeepers and zoo veterinarian for the duration of its short life.

At the time of passing, we suspected an infection in the baby’s lower digestive tract due to signs of blood in its stool on Friday.

We will know the exact cause after a necropsy. Mo, the mother, is handling the loss well and is receiving extra love from her caretakers. Baby was not with Mo for the last 24 hours of its life, but Mo was able to see the baby after the passing so she could have closure. Due to the nature of a male sloth, Chewy was not active in caring for the baby and is doing fine.

The baby sloth was bottle-fed after its initial few hours to supplement natural nursing, which proved challenging for both mother and baby. Zookeepers stepped in to feed the baby with veterinarian-recommended supplemental products to prevent further weight loss and to ensure sustained nourishment. As the sloth progressed, and apart from interval keeper feedings, the baby was with Mo at all times. Unfortunately, late last week, the baby became listless and began to show signs of distress necessitating greater measures to try and keep the baby alive. These efforts were not successful to our great sadness.

Sloth births are very rare in zoos, and for that reason, we continually consulted facilities internationally that have been successful in caring for these animals. In addition to working closely with our zoo vet, we specifically consulted with the Costa Rica Sloth Sanctuary, the San Diego Zoo, Atlanta Zoo, and a zoo in Sweden. As these facilities shared their best practices and expertise, we followed them diligently with Mo and baby. We would like to thank our animal care network for their insight and expertise and for their support during difficult time.

Lastly, we would like to thank our amazing zookeepers who cared for this baby around the clock. Thank you to everyone who has already shown an outpouring of love and support for this special little one, our zookeepers, and the Zoo. We are truly saddened by the loss of this little one we cared for so deeply.



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