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Big ... Cincinnati ... Zoo ... news: Sloth ... baby ... has ... arrived ...

 baby sloth rests on mother's stomach while she hangs from a branch
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Lightning gave birth June 7.

A much anticipated arrival has joined the Cincinnati Zoo. A Linne's two-toed sloth named "Lightning" gave birth this week.

The pup was born June 7 at 7:35 p.m. and appears to be healthy and strong, according to the zoo. Mom and baby are bonding behind the scenes. It may be a while before the sex is known. The zoo says it's difficult to determine a sloth's sex and DNA testing is often required.

"This is the first sloth baby that our team has cared for," says Julie Grove, manager of ambassador animals. "We are beyond excited that the baby is finally here! We’re ready to provide support to Lightning as she navigates being a mom."

The father, 23-year-old "Moe," was moved to a different enclosure when Lightning began showing signs she was getting closer to giving birth.

Zoo fans and staff have been waiting patiently for the new arrival. Lightning's previous pregnancy ended in a stillbirth in 2021.

"We are monitoring mom and baby closely but remaining hands-off for the most part," Grove says, adding, "Lightning's maternal instincts are kicking in. We're seeing all the behaviors that we want to see."

RELATED: Meet Lightning, the Cincinnati Zoo's sloth

The zoo is still deciding on a name for the new arrival, and says it will announce its choice next week.

"The baby will start to sample solid foods at about 10 days and will continue to nurse for about a month. After that, the youngster will cling to its mother's belly and eat whatever she eats. It first hangs upside down on its own at 20 to 25 days," according to a statement from the zoo.

While Linne's two-toed sloths aren't considered endangered, the zoo notes they are vulnerable to human encroachment and activity.

News of the slow-moving baby is garnering attention on social media. Comments on the zoo's Facebook pageinclude:

"So happy for this new arrival. So glad baby and mama are doing well!"

"This makes me so happy for Lightning!! Hopefully this will help further heal her sadness from her first miscarriage."

A few commenters are also speculating on the appropriate name for Lightning's offspring:

"Congratulations Lightning! The baby’s name has got to be Thunder, right?"

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.