A young Sloth born at Bristol Zoo Gardens has finally gone on show after 10 months intensive hand-rearing by keepers. Sid the sloth was born in the Zoo’s nocturnal house, Twilight World, last April, weighing just 500g (1.1lbs). Her mother, Light Cap, was taken ill shortly after giving birth and underwent a spell in the Zoo’s veterinary hospital which prevented her from caring for her baby. Despite making a full recovery, Light Cap was no longer producing enough milk to feed her baby and the youngster, who was named Sid after the sloth in the popular Ice Age movie, had to be cared for round the clock by a team of dedicated keepers.
In the first few months of her life, Sid needed feeding every three hours, including through the night. She was fed a combination of puppy milk formula and goat’s milk. She also had checks by the zoo vet on an almost daily basis to make sure she was developing well. The hard work has paid off and now, after almost a year, Sid has re-joined her mother on show in the Zoo’s nocturnal house, Twilight World. She has developed into a strong, healthy and inquisitive youngster, with a particular penchant for green beans.
Lynsey added: “Because she was hand-reared, Sid still likes having the attention of the keepers. However, it is important that she learns how to be a sloth, so we have been weaning her off human contact and now have a completely hands-off policy with her. Hand-rearing animals and then reintroducing them to their families can be tricky, so this has been a great success story.”
Bristol Zoo is part of a European zoo co-ordinated breeding programme for this species. The ultimate aim is for Sid to have a mate of her own in a few years’ time, and to produce babies of her own.
Sid is a species known as ‘Linne’s two toed sloths’, also known as the southern two-toed sloth.
They are native to South America, and are found in Venezuela, the Guianas, 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.