Monday, August 13, 2012

Announcing Our Newest Arrival!

We can hardly contain our excitement! On Sunday, August 12th, we welcomed our newest baby ... a Hoffmann's two-toed sloth.

According to Wildwood's animal curator/director the baby is nursing, clinging well and appears healthy. Newborn sloths use the stomach of their mother as a cradle and snuggles into the well camouflaged cuddly fur. As a consequence, the baby is very difficult to photograph. The little sloth measures just under 8-inches and weighs less than a pound. Can you see the baby, cradled under the mother's chin?

The long, coarse hair of the sloth protects them from sun and rain. Their fur, unlike other mammals, flows from belly to top, not top from belly, allowing rainwater to slide off the fur while the animal is hanging upside down.

Hoffmann's two-toed sloth is found in the rain forest canopy in two separate regions of South America. Sloths are slow moving animals; the Hoffmann's two-toed sloth gets its name from the two toes on their forefeet. The toes end with long, curved claws that they use to hang upside down, almost completely motionless. Sloths sleep in this position for a minimum of 16 hours a day! As you can guess, they spent most of their time in trees, although they may travel on the ground to move to a new tree. They are strictly nocturnal, moving slowly through the canopy for about eight hours each night. In the wild, they are solitary and aside from mothers with their babies, it is unusual for two sloths to be found in a tree at the same time.

The name "sloth" means "lazy," but the slow movements of this animal are actually an adaptation for surviving on a low-energy diet of leaves. Sloths have very poor eyesight and hearing, and rely almost entirely on their senses of touch and smell to find food.

We don't know the gender of the baby as yet and the development of the new baby is almost as slow as their every day lives! The sloth offspring won't attempt the two-toed upside down "hang" until they are 6-month old!

Come and see the newest addition at the park; you will find them located in the reptile/primate building in the main park.