Tiny Two-Toed Sloth at the Central Florida Zoo
December 21, 2008
Sloth babies are ridiculously cute. Case in point: this adorable two-toed sloth at the Central Florida Zoo born this summer. While sloths in captivity appear brown, grayish or even yellow, wild sloths often appear to have greenish coats because they move so slowly that algae grows on them during the rainy season!
We all need more baby sloths in our lives.
TWO-TOED SLOTH BORN AT CENTRAL FLORIDA ZOO & BOTANICAL GARDENS
Sanford, FL (May 2, 2008) – The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens announces the birth of their newest family member a two-toed sloth born this morning at approximately 9:30 a.m.
“This is a tremendously exciting birth for the Zoo,” says Bonnie Breitbeil, Zoo Curator. “This is our first sloth birth at the Zoo and it is also a first for this mother,” Breitbeil went on to say. “Mom and baby are doing very well and it has been fascinating to watch the second female sloth we have on exhibit as she has been interacting in the care of the newborn.”
This is the 4th birth in the last year in a zoo and there are a total of 112 two-toed sloths in zoos throughout North America. The other zoos with sloth births include: Ellen Trout Zoo, Cleveland Metropark and Montreal Biodome.
The two-toed sloth is found in Nicaragua, Colombia, Venezuela, Guiana, North-Central Brazil, and Northern Peru. The sloth is primarily arboreal and nocturnal and inhabits tropical rainforests. They go to the ground about once a week or to reach another tree that is inaccessible from above.
The two-toed sloth can reach lengths up to two feet and weigh between 8 – 25 lbs. They are grayish brown in color with a paler face. The shoulders and top of the head are the darkest. They often appear to have a greenish coat, this is caused by the production of algal growth on the skin during the wet season. They have long limbs with the forelegs slightly longer than the hind legs.
A single young is born after a gestation period of about 7 - 10 months. The young become independent from their mother at about one year. Captive specimens have lived for over 27 years while the average life span in the wild is 10-12 years.
Sloths are herbivores. They feed on leaves, young shoots, flowers and fruit. Due to the high cellulose content of the diet, sloths have very complex stomachs and the digestive process takes a long time. Sloths are nocturnal and are generally solitary. They are very well adapted to life in the trees and cannot really walk on the ground. When on the ground, they drag themselves forward with their long limbs. They can swim well. All activity is done very slowly to minimize the expenditure of energy. Sloths can also conserve energy by adjusting their body temperatures. Sloths have the most variable and lowest body temperature of any mammal. Their temperature can range from 83 - 93 degrees F., dropping on cool nights, during rainy weather and when sloths are inactive. Sloths spend so much time upside down that they are the only mammal whose fur is parted and flows from belly to back. This allows water to run-off during rainstorms. Ocelots and jaguars prey upon sloths, particularly when the sloth is on or near the ground. Harpy eagles may take young sloths. When pressed, the sloth will vigorously defend itself with its teeth and claws.
The two-toed sloth is quite common throughout most of its range. In many parts of S. America the two-toed sloth is hunted by the local people for its meat. The two-toed sloth’s greatest threat is deforestation.