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After 3 months, zoo's twin sloth bear cubs emerge from den

Just about everything is new to Woodland Park Zoo’s 3-month-old twin sloth bear cubs who took their first steps outside just days ago.

“Technically, their very first moments outside weren't steps at all, as they rode out from their den clinging to mom's back,” the zoo said on its blog. “Their feet didn't hit the ground until a minute later, when the sights and smells piqued their curiosity and they hopped down to check out their new surroundings.”

Until recently, the cubs have been practically glued to their mother—so much so that their keepers haven’t been able to get close enough to even learn their sexes.

But the cubs are already busy trying out what sloths do best: using their long claws to dig into logs and termite mounds, then slurping up the unearthed bugs, zoo officials said.

“When momma bear Tasha does this, you can hear the slurp from up to 300 feet away. For the cubs, the efforts weren't quite as mighty,” the zoo said. “Still, this was good practice for developing the skills that will keep them well fed once they are fully weaned from mom.”

Zoo officials say the mama sloth is keeping a close eye on her cubs, pulling them back in when they climb too high or wander too far for comfort. And it appears the cubs aren’t quite ready to let mama out of sight, either.

“Occasionally they'd venture just a little further out of her reach than they were ready for. Whenever they'd realize this, they'd let out a little shriek and go running back to her for comfort,” the zoo said.

The sloth exhibit is currently closed due to construction. The cubs will make their public debut on May 4 when a temporary pathway to the exhibit will open.

There are fewer than 50 sloth bears in American zoos, and fewer than 10,000 of the animal remaining in the wild. 

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