Zoo keepers have praised a super sloth dad after his baby took her first steps just in time for Father’s Day.

Little ten-month-old Echo at Drusillas Zoo Park, near Alfriston, has until recently spent every day clinging tightly to her mother Halina’s belly.

But keepers were delighted when they saw Echo climbing and hanging on her own for the first time this week.

Echo taking her first stepsEcho taking her first steps (Image: Drusillas Zoo Park)

It is a huge milestone as infant sloths typically stay on their mum for around a year.

Unlike male sloths in the wild, who will typically mate and leave, having no involvement in an baby’s life, Echo’s dad Sophocles has been by her side since day one, even occasionally carrying her like a female would when she was very small.

READ MORE: Zoo's new £500k monkey habitat now complete

Keepers think his calm presence has helped create a very confident, self-assured young sloth who is developing wonderfully.

Echo was born at the Drusillas in August last year. In 2022, the pair sadly lost their first-born baby, Athena, at just six months old due to an undetectable intestinal issue.

Dad Sophocles has been by Echo's side since day oneDad Sophocles has been by Echo's side since day one (Image: Drusillas Zoo Park)

Seeing Echo reach such a key stage in her development is even more special for keepers after the loss of Athena before she was able to do so.

Gemma Romanis, head keeper, said: "We were over the moon to see Echo take her first steps recently, our animals become like second family to us, so we feel just as proud as parents do at moments like this!"

"Reaching a milestone like this with Echo feels all the more meaningful after we lost Athena a couple of years ago. We feel particularly protective of Echo, and it’s been lovely to see that Sophocles feels the same as he’s always nearby and always keeping an eye on her. The three of them all snuggle up together to sleep which is the sweetest sight to see."

"Her first steps may seem tiny to some, but they are huge to us, as it represents a successful breeding of a species we are especially connected to here at the zoo. We expect she’ll start to climb independently more and more in the coming weeks and months as she grows in confidence."