Baby Sloth Refuses to Eat without a Suitable Cuddle BuddyS

It's time to learn a lot of very interesting facts about baby sloths, first and foremost among which is the technical term for a baby sloth is baby sloth, or baby Megalonychidae/Bradypodidae. Excellent! Moving right along, baby sloths really like to hug, nuzzle, and generally do all of the adorable things we demand of suitable domestic animal companions. They like contact so much, in fact, that they will literally starve to death and then come back and haunt whoever denied them cuddles.

Nothing illustrates this extreme cuddling dependency (let's just call it what it is — an addiction, like to heroin or crack, only with a tiny sloth) better than what happened when a baby sloth named Sjakie started making "I'm hungry noises" at a Dutch zoo earlier this week. Zookeepers at the Burgers' Zoo in Arnhem noticed that, though Sjakie was really hungry, its (more on that neuter pronoun in just a moment) mother wasn't producing enough milk. The zookeepers determined, of course, to feed Sjakie with a syringe, but they were hamstrung by an adorable problem — baby sloths like to cling to their mothers while feeding and so refuse to nurse unless they can also simultaneously be hugged. Yes, aww indeed. The Sjakie Tactical Feeding Team (this, you must understand, is not an official organization) tried substituting a few cheap retail teddy bears that Sjakie could cling to , but the finicky eater only started nursing after one of zookeepers offered up her two-year-old daughter's own personal teddy bear for the cause.

Sjakie now eats all kinds of vegetables while clutching the bear, an idea given to the Dutch zoo by some German colleagues at Dortmund's zoo and the Frankfurt Zoological Gardens respectively. Though Sjakie loves its teddy, handlers have to be ready with a back-up bear because sloths apparently pee all over everything, even the things they love, which, when you think about it, must be a little frustrating. Zookeepers also don't know whether Sjakie is male or female because sloths keep their genitals all bunched up in their bodies. Biologist Wineke Schoo assures us that "for now, that [Sjakie's sex] is not important," but that the zoo will later use a sonogram to determine what pronouns future reports on Sjakie should avail themselves of.

Teddy Beart TLC Keeps Baby Sloth Alive [Spiegel Online]