‘The Force’ is with Zoo Heidelberg’s New Sloth
November 13, 2015
Fred and Wilma are parents again! The pair of Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloths at Zoo Heidelberg, in Germany, welcomed a male offspring on July 31st.
The Zoo recently sought out a name for the hairy baby, and fans of the Zoo submitted their suggestions via Facebook. As a bit of an homage to the popular Wookie warrior of Star Wars, Chewbacca, the young sloth is now known as “Chewy”!
Chewy and him mom, Wilma, can be seen in the Zoo’s South America Aviary cruising much slower than 'lightspeed', upside down in the trees.
Photo Credits: Heidrun Knigge (Image 1) ; Zoo Heidelberg (2-4)
The Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus didactylus), also known as the Southern Two-toed Sloth or Unau, is a species from South America. They are found in Venezuela, the Guyanas, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil (north of the Amazon).
They are solitary, nocturnal and arboreal—preferring to reside in rainforests. This species of sloth can swim, which enables them to cross rivers and creeks with some ease.
They cannot walk (they pull hand-over-hand to maneuver) and therefore spend most of their lives hanging upside down in trees. Their fur grows greenish algae to camouflage them in their surroundings. Their body temperature depends partially on ambient temperature; they cannot shiver to keep warm, due to their unusually low metabolic rate.
The Two-toed Sloth eats primarily leaves, but will also feed on shoots, fruits, nuts, berries, bark, flowers, and an occasional rodent.
They have a gestation period of about 10 months. They mother will give birth hanging upside down. The young are born with claws and are weaned after about a month. They remain with the mother for several more months, and do not reach sexual maturity until the age of three.
They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Their main enemies are large birds of prey (harpy, crested eagle) and wild cats (ocelot, jaguar).