Cincinnati Zoo mourns loss of stillborn baby sloth

Lightning the sloth Cincinnati zoo
Posted at 6:50 AM, Oct 13, 2021

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Zoo staff members are mourning the loss of what would have been the zoo's first baby sloth.

The zoo announced that would-be mother Lightning was expecting in February. The 8-year-old was the zoo's first sloth pregnancy since they began attempting to mate Moe in 2016. Lightning was introduced to Moe in December of 2019.

After an hours-long labor, Lightning delivered a stillborn pup, the zoo announced on Sunday.

"This was an incredibly tough day for our Zoo team and our Zoo community and I'm saddened for our zookeepers that have given so much to Lightning during her pregnancy," said Meredith Hughes, the zoo's Ambassador Animals and Outreach curator, in a press release.

The birth would have made Lightning a first-time mother, and the zoo said she did well throughout her pregnancy. The baby was fine and had a heartbeat in the months leading up to the birth.

"With any pending birth, we prepare for all possible scenarios," said David Orban, Cincinnati Zoo's director of Animal Science and Strategy, in a press release. "We knew this could happen but had no indication that it would. With months of preparations from our zookeepers, curators, veterinary team, neonate specialist, nutritionist and zoo volunteer observers, we all felt ready to go and were looking forward to welcoming a healthy baby."

Lightning is currently resting and will be reunited with Moe in the zoo's Discovery Forest at some point in the future.

This story was originally published by Felicia Jordan on Scripps station WCPO in Cincinnati.