Keepers at London Zoo celebrate birth of adorable baby sloth

ZSL London Zoo/Cover Images

Staff at London Zoo staff are celebrating a new arrival - a baby two-toed sloth - born on New Year's Day.

Knowing 16-year-old sloth Marilyn was due any day, zookeepers had kept a close eye on the mum-to-be over Christmas and were thrilled to finally spot two big brown eyes peering out through her fur.

London Zoo sloth keeper, Veronica Heldt, said: "Having arranged regular ultrasounds with the Zoo's vet team, we knew Marilyn was coming to the end of her pregnancy, so we've been checking every day for any sign of the new arrival; we were delighted to finally spot a tiny baby exactly where it should be, clinging onto Marilyn's tummy, as she curled up in her favourite tree.

"We've nick-named the little one Nova, which means 'new' in Latin, as we couldn't have asked for a better start to the new year."

Veronica added: "Sloth babies are very strong when they're born and immediately find a comfy spot, hugging mum, which they won't leave entirely until around 12 months old. This enables them to build up the valuable muscles needed to spend life slowly swinging from tree to tree."

Nova was born with the two-toed sloth's characteristically impressive claws, which will grow up to four inches in length and also help when the youngster is ready to 'branch out' on its own.

Keepers won't know the youngster's sex until confirmed by vets after hair DNA is analysed. Male or female, the newborn is a valuable addition to its species and once its sex is confirmed, details will be added to the European Studbook (ESB), part of a coordinated breeding programme for two-toed sloths.