CINCINNATI — The sloth habitat at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden will be renamed after Oliver Nicholson, who would have turned 2 years old on Oct. 11.
According to a press release from the zoo, Oliver and his twin, Atticus, were born on Oct. 11, 2019, seven weeks premature. Oliver was diagnosed with VACTERL association, a series of rare birth defects that affect different systems in the body, according to RareDiseases.com. He passed away earlier this year.
"We gave him a stuffed sloth during one of his hospital stays, which he adored and slept with every night," Alex Nicholson, Oliver's father, told the zoo.
After learning the Cincinnati Zoo's sloth was pregnant, Nicholson's family started an online petition to have the the baby named Oliver, which gathered over 80,000 signatures. Unfortunately, the zoo announced on Sunday the baby sloth was stillborn.
The zoo will instead honor Oliver by naming its entire sloth habitat after him.
"We had been in contact with the zoo and had discussed other ways we could honor Oliver," Alex Nicholson said. "This tribute will be lasting and means so much. It gives us a huge bright spot on an especially difficult day and some positive news to share with the 80,000 people who signed our petition."
Lightning, the mother of the baby sloth, is currently at the Cincinnati Zoo Animal Ambassador Center, but will be reunited with Moe, her 22-year-old companion, in the habitat in the future.