Baby sloth Nova clings to mum Marilyn ahead of Mother's Day
Keepers have shared a tender moment between London Zoo's Rainforest Life matriarch, two-toed sloth Marilyn, and her three-month-old baby, Nova.
The two-toed sloths (Choloepus didactylus) at the conservation zoo have taken to family life with ease since baby Nova's arrival on New Year's Day, with keepers revealing that the tiny sloth is developing well and growing fast.
Sloth keeper Veronica Heldt said: "Like all new mums will attest to this Mother's Day, personal space does not exist with a newborn - since Nova's birth, mum and baby have been inseparable, with Nova spending most of their time clinging to Marilyn's tummy, where they'll stay firmly attached for at least another nine months, until strong enough to swing solo.
"The parent-child relationship is really important to baby sloths' development," Veronica added. "Nova is already picking up important skills and behaviours from Marilyn, learning what's best to eat, for example - steamed parsnip is a particular favourite at the moment."
Despite sloths' placid reputation, keepers have spotted the young sloth's cheeky side, catching Nova taking food straight out of mum's claws.
Like all the animals in London Zoo's Rainforest Life - the capital's only living rainforest - two-toed sloths have adapted over millennia to their unique lifestyles: for sloths like Marilyn and Nova, their internal organs, heart, spleen, and liver are all arranged to accommodate living upside-down.
Nova's development will continue at pace over the next few months, when keepers will also discover Nova's sex - after a few hairs have been sent off by the zoo's veterinary team for DNA analysis.