Update 5/17: We are heartbroken to share that Sovanni, our pygmy slow loris who was pregnant, gave birth to a stillborn baby on Thursday, May 16. Our vet staff performed a full exam on Sovanni and she is recovering well after the delivery.
By Olivia Orolin, Communications Intern
We’re expecting a tiny bundle of fur! Our pygmy slow loris, Sovanni, is pregnant and expecting a baby in May. This is her second pregnancy, but her first here. We are excited to welcome the new baby to your Akron Zoo.
Sovanni is 10 years old and was born in New Mexico at the Albuquerque BioPark Zoo. She arrived at the Akron Zoo in 2017 from the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina. Sovanni likes having something cozy to sleep in, and she is highly motivated by food. When it is time for a training session, all a keeper needs to do is grab some food and she is engaged. Sovanni also adjusts quickly to new enrichment, so having a new baby around should be no problem for her.
The expecting father is Asiago. Unlike Sovanni who is very curious, Asiago is a bit more timid. Christina Mlinaric, one of our pygmy slow loris keepers, said that Asiago is good at giving Sovanni her space when it is needed. This is his first baby, so we are not completely sure how he will react to the newborn. Since keepers are unsure of his reaction, and to keep the baby safe, Asiago will only be able to admire the baby from a distance.
As this is not the first offspring for Sovanni, her care team has been working with her to help prepare for the birth. This includes conducting regular ultrasounds. Normal gestation for a pygmy slow loris is, at max, 200 days. This is only 80 days short of a human pregnancy. A successful birth will have a major impact on the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) slow loris population. The pygmy slow loris is a priority of the Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP oversees the population management of select species within AZA member institutions and helps to enhance conservation of this species in their native habitat by establishing genetically diverse populations in zoos. Increasing the AZA population is a priority because populations of pygmy slow loris have been decreasing, and currently only 54 loris live in 22 North American zoos. Your Akron Zoo has been one of the most successful zoos in North America with breeding this species.
Dr. Brittany Rizzo, our veterinarian, said Sovanni is currently gaining weight at a healthy rate for her pregnancy. The ultrasounds that she receives reveal that the baby is doing well, growing appropriately, and has a strong heartbeat. Overall mom and baby are looking great and we can’t wait to finally meet the new loris!