Okra Mae the sloth is expecting
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Slowly but surely, a new arrival will join the Zoo Atlanta family this summer
ATLANTA – May 30, 2014 – Okra Mae, a 19-year-old female Hoffman’s two-toed sloth at Zoo Atlanta, is expecting an infant. The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams confirmed the pregnancy via ultrasound on May 23 and have estimated a birth window of early June to early July 2014.
Okra Mae and her mate, 21-year-old male Cocoa, are fairly recent acquaintances; the father-to-be joined the Zoo Atlanta family in summer 2013. Okra Mae and Cocoa share their habitat with a second female, 14-year-old Bonnie. Cocoa has been recommended by the Sloth Species Survival Plan (SSP) to breed with both females.
“We’re thrilled about Okra Mae’s pregnancy. This will be a first for us at Zoo Atlanta, and we can’t wait to meet this little one and watch him or her grow up with us,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “Sloths are not only very popular animals here at the Zoo, but they’re also truly fascinating creatures with so many amazing and unusual adaptations. We always welcome an opportunity to highlight the remarkable diversity of wildlife on Earth, and sloths make that easy to do.”
Sloths have an unusually long gestation period for mammals their size, typically giving birth to one offspring every 18 months to two years following an 11 or 12-month gestation. Zoo Atlanta is one of only a handful of zoos ever to successfully obtain an ultrasound with a sloth, and the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams are working toward training female Bonnie for the same procedure.
Okra Mae, who gave birth to one previous surviving offspring prior to transferring to Zoo Atlanta, is an experienced mother. Fatherhood will be a new experience for Cocoa, who had never before been housed with females prior to meeting Okra Mae and Bonnie.
Native to Central and South America, Hoffman’s two-toed sloths are not currently classified as endangered, but wild populations face threats as a result of habitat destruction and human encroachment. Zoo Atlanta Primate Keeper Lynn Yakubinis chairs the SSP programs for Hoffman’s two-toed sloths and Linne’s two-toed sloths. Lynn also manages the studbooks for both species.
Watch Okra Mae, Cocoa and Bonnie on Animal Planet L!VE’s Sloth Cam on apl.tv. Biweekly Sloth Cam Chats with Zoo sloth experts run on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m.
Stay tuned for updates on Okra Mae’s pregnancy.