Saturday 1 October 2016

London Zoo's 'Scissorhands' sloth given teddy bear to replace ailing mother

Published 31/07/2015 | 00:07

A teddy bear is giving a sloth lessons in gripping on to things, replacing the role of the animal's mother who is unable to care for her offspring
A teddy bear is giving a sloth lessons in gripping on to things, replacing the role of the animal's mother who is unable to care for her offspring

A baby sloth named "Edward" after his impressive Edward Scissorhands-like claws is being hand-reared with the help of a special teddy bear.

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Zookeeper Kelly-Anne Kelleher has taken on the role of surrogate mother at London Zoo after seven-week old two-toed sloth Edward's mother stopped producing milk and was unable to care for him.

He was named after Johnny Depp's character Edward Scissorhands due to his claws, which will grow to up to four inches in length, enabling him to cling on and climb easily through trees.

To build up muscles the youngster would naturally develop by holding onto his mother, Ms Kelleher has adapted his teddy bear with carabiners, climbing equipment that means it can be hung from a branch and allow him to climb on and strengthen his limbs.

Edward is living up to his sloth reputation, with his keeper often having to wait for him to stir from a deep slumber before being able to feed him.

She said: "We're bottle-feeding Edward every three hours with goat's milk, topped up with some vitamins to keep him fit and healthy.

"Just like with human baby formula, we heat it up until it's at room temperature, and test its warmth on our wrists - it took him a few days to get used to the bottle, but now he's hungrily suckling as soon as we give it to him.

"If he's feeling particularly hungry he makes a very funny noise to let us know - a sound somewhere between a squeak and a sneeze, but it's very loud and he makes his point."

The young sloth, a nocturnal mammal native to South America, will become part of the European breeding programme for his species, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) said.

Press Association

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