Girl gives favourite teddy to baby sloth
A two-year-old Dutch girl helped save the life of a baby sloth - by giving up her favourite teddy bear.
Baby sloth Sjakie started to waste away almost as soon as it was born at the Burgers' Zoo in Arnhem as its mother was not producing enough milk.
But hand feeding the infant also failed as the youngster refused to nurse when not able to cuddle.
Keeper Boudewijn Stenbreker, 37, said: "Baby sloths need to cuddle, especially when they nurse. We knew it needed to take milk from a syringe but without mum there it was not interested."
He said that they had the idea of using a teddy bear but none of the soft toys in the zoo shop had worked.
Then his daughter Lieke offered her bear, and keepers decided to give it a try, hoping the baby sloth might prefer the smell of a used bear - and it worked.
Mr Stenbreker said: "Lieke was delighted. Sjakie took to the bear as if it was its own mum and now grasps it while zookeepers feed the baby extra milk as well as liquidised vegetables."
The only drawback is that Lieke may not get her original bear back.
Sjakie often urinates on the stuffed animal and although it doesn't seem to mind the smell, it is unlikely to go down well at the Boudewijn household.
The zoo has however purchased a second similar teddy and handed it to Lieke for safe keeping - in case it is also needed.
And when not with the surrogate mum, Sjakie is with its real mother who still takes care of her baby.