Keepers are hoping the newly arrived, 1 and a half year-old female sloth from Straubing Zoo in Germany will enjoy the company of the zoo’s resident male sloth, named Enrique.
Two-toed sloths are native to Central and South America. They spend the majority of their lives upside down, in the trees. These unusual animals eat, sleep, mate and give birth from their position high among the branches in the rainforest.
These solitary animals have a low metabolic rate which allows them to survive on little or poor quality food. Due to this, a sloth only comes to the ground once a week to go to the toilet.
Sloths are the only mammal with hair that grows in the opposite direction to all other animals. This allows rain water to run off their body while they hang upside down in the trees.
Zoo Curator, Linda Frew, explains why it could be some time before a baby sloth arrives, “We are delighted to have a new female sloth at Belfast Zoo as they are one of our most popular species with visitors. Female two-toed sloths reach “full maturity” and can breed from when they’re three years old. They are pregnant for about six months. When born, baby sloths spend their first few weeks clinging closely to their mother. Priscita is only one and a half years old so they have plenty of time to get to know each other before we can hope for any babies!”
Traditionally, the zoo’s sloths were homed in the Rainforest House however visitors can currently view Enrique and his new girlfriend in the gorilla house.
Belfast Zoo is open every day, 10am – 6pm with last admission at 4.30pm.
Photo credit: Alan Campbell