A baby sloth, named Sjakie, needs a teddy bear to survive after its mother wasn’t producing enough milk.
Wineke Schoo, park manager of Burgers Zoo in Arnhem, The Netherlands, explains why to anchor Marco Werman.
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Marco Werman: I’m Marco Werman, this is The World. This next story about a baby sloth hugging a teddy bear is sure to lift yours spirits. The pictures are incredibly cute, check them out at theworld.org. See, the baby sloth named Sjakie needs that teddy bear to survive, and wait until you hear who gave her the teddy bear in the first place; it’s too cute for words. Wineke Schoo is park manager of Burgers Zoo in Arnhem in The Netherlands, that’s where Sjakie lives. So this little sloth, Wineke, was struggling. You had to find another way to feed it. Why does it need a teddy bear?
Wineke Schoo: Well it needs a teddy bear because sloth have claws and they need to hang on normally to the mother, sort of grasp the mother, and it’s like a reflex. They actually need it, so we wanted to find something that it could use for that purpose.
Werman: And did it not have a mother?
Schoo: Well it had a mother, and she was caring very well for the baby, but the problem was that after a few days we could hear sounds that sounded like he was really hungry. When we checked him out he was actually dehydrated, so it’s probably caused by the fact that the mother does not have enough milk.
Werman: So you started shopping around looking for a teddy bear, what made you think that you could substitute a teddy bear for a real sloth mother?
Schoo: Yeah because the mother normally, a mother sloth has also, of course, fur. So we wanted to have something that really felt like a sloth, so we tried out several teddy bears or stuffed animals because of course in the zoo we have shops. We tried several things, and it didn’t work out really well, and finally we found the really correct one.
Werman: So this sloth, little Sjakie, was very particular about his teddy bear. How did you settle on the right teddy bear, what did Sjakie take a liking to finally?
Schoo: Well that’s actually the funniest part of the story. Because he had to have milk every three hours, of course a keeper also had to take him home. Finally has was with a keeper, and he has a daughter of two years old. She came and she saw Sjakie of course, and she said, â€œWell, I have a teddy bear but I’ll give him as a present to Sjakie.â€ Then, well, this was actually the right one. We don’t know why; it has the right size probably.
Werman: Right, that’s amazing. What happens though if this little girl wants her teddy bear back, is Sjakie doomed?
Schoo: No, no, no. She really likes him to, of course she sees him on a regular basis, and of course for her, even with her two years old, she’s very proud of the fact that he’s doing really well. Her father is caring for the sloth, so she really gave it as a present and the father also said that he didn’t want to give it back because he pees also on the teddy bear. So in the end, finally it will be a teddy bear that will not be used again.
Werman: So two months old now, how is Sjakie doing, and how long has the teddy bear project been working out?
Schoo: Well he’s now two months old and probably in the next couple weeks he’ll start climbing more, and more, and more, so he’ll be more on his own. Probably, like in the wild and also in our zoo, they normally go back to the mother, of course. So he will probably have the teddy bear around for a certain amount of time, and then in the end he will go out and find his way in the world.
Werman: Is Sjakie still in contact with the mother sloth at all, even though she doesn’t have milk?
Schoo: No, he sometimes sees her, but sloth have really big claws, so for the keepers it’s not safe to hand it over to the female. But when he gets older he will probably be in the same enclosure as the female and will have normal social contact to the female, but he probably will not see her as his mother anymore.
Werman: I wonder how the mother feels about this, with this inanimate interloper in the child’s cage.
Schoo: That’s true; we’ll see what she thinks about it.
Werman: Well as we said in the beginning you can see pictures of little Sjakie at theworld.org. Wineke Schoo, park manager of Burgers Zoo in Arnhem, The Netherlands, thank you so much.
Schoo: No problem.
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