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It’s a girl: willow!

The infant Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth born to Bonnie on November 4, 2018, is a female and has been named Willow! The Sloth Care Team revealed the infant’s sex and name on March 19, 2019, during a special #TakeoverTuesday on Zoo Atlanta Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Nearly 15,000 votes were cast to decide Willow’s name, which was one of six submitted by the Sloth Care Team: three for a female, and three for a female. Voting opened on March 6 and closed on March 10.

Willow is the second offspring of Bonnie, 19, and Cocoa, 26. Mother and infant are currently in their behind-the-scenes indoor area and are expected to begin venturing into their outdoor habitat later this spring. Bonnie and Willow share their area with another adult female, 24-year-old Okra Mae. Cocoa can currently be seen in the Zoo’s Brazilian Outpost complex.

While sloths are famous for their slow movements, sloth development moves at a notably more rapid pace than the infancies of most other mammals. Following a lengthy gestation period of 11 to 12 months, newborn sloths are born fully-furred, with their eyes open and teeth already present, along with fully-developed claws for clinging to their mothers. Infants begin trying solid foods within two weeks of birth. They may continue to remain with or near their mothers for around a year.

The infant was detected via ultrasound in October. At the time of the birth of Bonnie’s first infant, Raisin, in 2015, Zoo Atlanta was one of only a handful of zoos ever to successfully obtain an ultrasound with a sloth. Raisin now lives at another zoological organization.  

Native to Central and South America, Hoffmann’s two-toed sloths are not currently classified as endangered, but wild populations face threats as a result of habitat destruction, human encroachment and the pet trade. Lynn Yakubinis, a Lead Keeper at Zoo Atlanta, chairs the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) programs for Hoffmann’s two-toed sloths and Linne’s two-toed sloths. Zoo Atlanta is an active member of many SSP programs, which exist to protect the long-term viability of animal populations housed in accredited North American zoos by working to ensure that zoological populations remain healthy, genetically diverse and self-sustaining for future generations.

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