Sidone (Sid for short) is a five week old baby sloth, being cared for round the clock by a team of dedicated keepers at Bristol Zoo. She was born in Twilight World to mother, Light Cap, and weighed around 500g (1.1lbs) at birth. But Light Cap was taken ill shortly after giving birth and had to receive veterinary treatment. After a stay in the Zoo’s on-site veterinary centre, Light Cap made a full recovery and was returned to Twilight World. However, she was no longer producing enough milk to feed her baby and keepers had no choice but to intervene to hand-rear Sid in order to save her. The youngster, who has been named after Sid the sloth in the popular Ice Age movie, is believed to be a girl, but sloths are very difficult to sex. She is being looked after by zoo keepers in a special room behind-the-scenes of Twilight World.
Now five weeks old, she weighs 537g (1.2lbs) and is growing well. But she has needed a lot of care from her keepers, including almost daily checks by the zoo vet, as explained by Bristol Zoo’s Overseer of Mammals, Rob Rouse. He said: “Four keepers have been intensively caring for Sid since she was three days old and we’re thrilled that she is doing so well. She is strong, healthy and very inquisitive, and she loves people.”
Until very recently, caring for the baby was a 24-hour job, as Rob explains: “When she was tiny, Sid needed feeding every two hours, day and night, so we took it in turns to feed her through the night.”
He added: “It has been a real team effort as we have had to work closely with each other, and with the vets, to look after Sid. Meanwhile other keepers in the mammal team have to cover the rest of the workload while we are looking after Sid. Hand-rearing any animals is hard work and very tiring, particularly in the first few weeks, but seeing how well she is developing certainly makes it all worthwhile.”
Sidone, and her parents Light Cap and Rio, are a species known as ‘Linne’s two toed sloths’, also known as the Southern two-toed sloth. Bristol Zoo is part of a European zoo co-ordinated breeding programme for Linne’s two-toed sloths.
The species is native to South America, and are found in Venezuela, the Guyanas, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, north of the Amazon River.
Despite not being at risk from extinction in the wild, habitat destruction and climate change are the biggest threats facing Linne’s two-toed sloths. They are also hunted as food and for their claws and fur, which are used to make necklaces and saddlecloths.