Sloth bear cub and mother Kayla.

Philadelphia Zoo is enlisting the help of the public to choose a name for its new sloth bear cub. Pick your favorite name from a list of names that were developed by the cub’s keepers. Born on December 11th, the cub is doing well, growing rapidly, and has become quite adventurous since its outdoor debut in March. (Read more about that here.) Vote now through Thursday, April 23rd at 11:59 pm. You can vote as many times as you wish, at this link.

“There has been an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm around the birth of this cub, inside and outside the Zoo,” say Dr. Andy Baker, Philadelphia Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer. “Because of the excitement and support, we are asking our community to participate in helping choose a name. This birth is significant for the Zoo as well as the overall sloth bear population in the U.S., and highlights the wonderful animal care and other work happening at Philadelphia Zoo each and every day.”

Choosing the Names

When creating the list of names keepers had a lot to consider including choosing names that are not gender-specific, are meaningful and fitting for the cub.
At this stage, determining the sex of an infant sloth bear cub isn’t as easy as it sounds. Typically, keepers take a hands-off approach, leaving mom to care for the baby, unless there is a situation that warrants interference. This combined with current social distancing between staff and carnivores including bears has prevented keepers in confirming the sex of the cub. Best guess is that the cub is a “he”, but keepers are not committing yet!
With sloth bears being native to the lowland forests of India, and Sri Lanka, the names chosen are from the Hindi language.
Voters can choose from the names with meanings below:
  • Keematee – Means Precious
  • Rahi – Bringer of spring or traveler
  • Kelani – A river in Sri Lanka means The Heavens
  • Kali – A river in Nepal means Terrific

About Sloth Bears

Sloth bears are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with populations declining dramatically in recent decades due to habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and poaching. Philadelphia Zoo is home to three sloth bears in addition to the cub: 6-year-old dad Bhalu, 7-year-old mom Kayla and 13- year-old Balawat. The new cub is the first successful birth for Kayla and Bhalu, and the first healthy sloth bear born at Philadelphia Zoo since 1997.

How the Zoo is Staying Connected

The launch of Philly Zoo at 2, the debut of the Sloth Bear Cub in March, and now the invite to help name the new baby are all ways Philadelphia Zoo is engaging the public during this time of crisis, and are bringing the Zoo experience into living rooms across the United States and around the globe. For more information on, or to donate to the SPRING BACK fund visit, Stay connected through Facebook: PhiladelphiaZoo; Instagram: @philadelphiazoo; Twitter: @phillyzoo.

We Are Supported By:


Join Our Community. Click here to learn more