A Sparsholt College student has been busy balancing her studies with hand-rearing an orphaned sloth named Flash.

For the last six months, Gemma Romanis  – who is studying for a diploma in zoo and aquarium animal management at the Hampshire-based college – has been developing skills by helping to raise Flash.

Gemma with Flash at Drusillas Park

Working full-time as a zookeeper at Drusillas Park, she shares the responsibility of caring for her with head keeper Mark Kenward. Between them, they dispense feeds throughout the night before returning to the park for their day jobs.

Gemma, who claims her course has helped her extend her theoretical knowledge of looking after exotic animals, has excelled in her first term of studies, passing the course with multiple distinctions.

Gemma said: “I have had a limited social life due to the demands of hand rearing and meeting coursework deadlines. 

“Flash is definitely worth it though and I really appreciate the college’s flexibility in enabling me to look after the sloth and do my coursework.”

Sloths are not fully independent until they reach the age of one, so the hand-rearing will continue for another six months.

Main photo: Flash (a-ah, saviour of the universe)

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