Sloth born at Zoo Atlanta but did not survive
Friday, June 20, 2014
Okra Mae delivered an infant on June 20, but the newborn did not survive
ATLANTA – June 20, 2014 – Okra Mae, a 19-year-old female Hoffman’s two-toed sloth at Zoo Atlanta, gave birth to an infant on June 20, 2014, but the newborn did not survive.
All animal newborns are fragile, and infant mortality is a reality for all species. At this time, the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams are not certain if Okra Mae’s infant was stillborn or did not survive the delivery process.
“We’re disappointed about Okra Mae’s baby. This would have been a first for us at Zoo Atlanta, and we were looking forward to the birth with great excitement,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “While this birth had a sad outcome, we’re encouraged by the success of our sloth program so far and are optimistic that Okra Mae will produce other offspring in the future.”
The pregnancy was confirmed via ultrasound in late May. 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 the Zoo’s second female, 14-year-old Bonnie, for the same procedure.
Okra Mae, who gave birth to two previous offspring prior to transferring to Zoo Atlanta, is an experienced mother. Her mate, 21-year-old Cocoa, had never been housed with members of the opposite sex prior to meeting Okra Mae and Bonnie. Cocoa and Okra Mae have been recommended to breed by the Sloth Species Survival Plan (SSP).
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 biweekly on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Zoo Atlanta will also appear as a special invited guest during Animalist’s Sloth Week Google+Hangout on Air, coming up Tuesday, June 24, at 5:30 p.m. EST.
Stay tuned for updates on the sloths at Zoo Atlanta.