Flash, the hand reared baby sloth at Drusillas Park has taken a big step towards independence, by sleeping overnight at the zoo for the first time on her own.
For the last 11 months, head keeper Mark Kenward and zoo Keeper Gemma Romanis have been sharing Flash’s around the clock care after her mother sadly passed away shortly after she was born. The pair even took turns to take the orphaned infant home with them; two-toed sloths are a nocturnal species so require interaction and regular feeds during the night.
However, Gemma and Mark decided the time had come to cut the apron strings. After settling Flash into her new off-show activity pen over the last few weeks and slowly reducing the amount of contact, Flash finally stayed at the zoo overnight for the first time on her own.
Gemma, who even had Flash at home with her on Christmas Day, said, “It was a bit nerve-racking to say the least but she coped brilliantly and I don’t think either of us predicted it would go quite so smoothly. For the first five nights. Mark and I visited her to see how she was getting on and although she was pleased to see us, it was clear she was quite calm and comfortable.
“Although I do really miss her, I am so proud to see her confidence growing and her adapting so well. It means we have achieved successfully what we set out to do and although it’s been an incredibly tough year, it’s also been an enormous privilege to have been part of and to work alongside Mark. I’m very proud of this achievement and it is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life both personally and professionally.
“By the end of February we also hope to have introduced a new friend to Flash. A female sloth will arrive from Amersfoort Zoo in Holland and the two girls will share an enclosure and Flash will hopefully learn a little more about being a sloth. All being well, Flash and the new female will settle well and are expected to be on-show to the public by Easter.”