Sjakie The Baby Sloth And His Teddy Bear Mama

Sjakie was born at Burgers’ Zoo in the Netherlands and, although his mom tried to care for him, she didn’t have enough milk to keep him healthy. Workers at the zoo struggled to find a surrogate for Sjakie (pronounced “Sharkey”) to hold on to when a 2-year-old girl met him and gifted him with the right bear for the job.

Wineke Schoo, park manager of Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem, explains how Sjakie ended up in the care of the zoo. “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. And when we checked him out he was actually dehydrated so it was probably caused by the fact that the mother does not have enough milk.”

So zoo officials took over — but even baby sloths have sharp claws. Schoo: “It needs a teddy bear because sloths have claws and they need to hang on, normally, to the mother.” The keepers tried a multitude of stuffed options but Sjakie rejected them all. Fate intervened when an understanding little girl got to meet the tiny sloth baby.

“He was with a keeper and [the keeper] has a [2-year-old] daughter and she came and she saw Sjakie, of course, and she said ‘well, I had a teddy bear, but I gave him as a present to Sjakie.’”

Sjakie is two-months-old now and he is doing very well and is expected to begin crawling around on his own very soon. However, he’ll still want his teddy bear back when he’s done exploring. The little girl doesn’t mind. Schoo says she’s “proud” to see Sjakie doing so well and knowing that her dad (and her bear) are helping the process along.

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