Meet “Sid” — Our Baby Sloth!
Okay, is this baby cute or what? Meet "Sid," Zooniversity’s newest animal ambassador. This adorable, baby two-toed sloth has actually been with us for a couple of months already, spending his time in quarantine and bonding with our keepers. Now, it’s time for his grand debut!
"Sid" needed a new mama, so he traveled all the way from the jungles of Guyana to adopt Zooniversity’s owner, Allison, as his new mother. He’s turned into a real hip-baby — you’ll find him perched on her hip with arms around her neck while she does chores or just napping in those rare, quiet moments. Some of our Facebook fans met him online last Fall, when we were calling him "Dante." But, due to overwhelming demand by friends and family, we’ve renamed him "Sid," after the comical, prehistoric giant ground sloth in the animated Ice Age movies — hence, the kid-friendly name change. "Sid" doesn’t seem to mind at all. Actually, he doesn’t seem to mind anything, as long as a juicy grape is involved!
Two-toed sloths are found throughout tropical South America and are built for life in the jungle treetops. They spend nearly all of their time aloft, hanging upside down from branches with a powerful grip using their long claws. Sloths even sleep in trees, and they sleep a lot — up to 20 hours every day. The sloth is the world’s slowest mammal. So sedentary in fact, that in the wild algae can actually grow on their furry coat — earning them the "slothy" reputation that we equate with human laziness. Even when awake, they often remain motionless and are silent. At night they eat leaves, shoots, and fruit from the trees and get almost all of their water from juicy plants. Food can take up to a month to digest, due to their slow metabolism. Sloths are clumsy on land and usually only go to the ground to defecate. The sloth’s weak hind legs provide no power and their long claws are a problem on land. They must dig into the earth with their front claws and use their strong front legs to pull themselves along, dragging their bellies across the ground. If caught on land, these animals have no chance to evade predators, such as big cats or humans, and must try to defend themselves by clawing and biting. And, believe us, you don’t want to battle with an upset sloth — they are stronger than they look and can do some serious damage! They are also surprisingly good swimmers, sometimes falling directly from rainforest trees into rivers to stroke with their long arms.
"Sid" will be ready to travel with us this Spring and Summer to meet our school and library audiences. (A long day of birthday parties would still be too stressful for this baby, so he won’t be available for parties for awhile.) Be sure to invite "Sid" to meet your students — and be sure to bring along some grapes.