Every morning the Aquarium’s Rainforest staff takes inventory of the animals since most of them have a free range of the habitat each day. It is often a challenge to locate all three of the Rainforest sloths since they hide in the trees. On one particular morning they were conspiring together on the back wall, which is a very rare sight!
Clockwise they are; Deb (Aquarium staff), Syd, Ivy, and Howie. Hmm, what were those sloths up to?
Sloth social behaviors are poorly understood and observations of this sort assist us in developing a greater understanding of sloth biology. We know that they are generally considered solitary animals, but some species of sloths have been seen occupying the same desirable trees and sleep spots in the wild. Often our Rainforest sloths can be seen alone or near just one other, so this sighting was a very interesting observation.
So, why were they? It may be that all three sloths were getting too warm in the treetops and retreated to cooler air. It is a possibility that it was simply coincidental, and after their nightly dinner exhibit rounds they ended up together by daybreak. It may even mean that the sloths were engaging in another hoped for reproductive event!
Look for Howie’s large and very sharp ‘canine-like’ premolars. Sloths were at one time called Edentates, or toothless mammals. Today they are correctly referred to as Xenarthrans (which is why our baby sloth has been named Xeno), a taxonomic group that also includes armadillos and anteaters. If you look at Ivy’s feet you will notice that the hind foot has three toes/claws and the front foot has two toes/claws. Two toed sloths are sometimes referred to as two-fingered sloths for this reason.
We are thrilled to welcome the newest addition to the Upland Tropical Rain Forest – a two-toed sloth born in late February.
While escorting a sleepover group through the Upland Tropical Rain Forest, a member of the Aquarium’s education team noticed the new addition. The next day it was confirmed that Rose, one of three adult sloths living in the exhibit, had given birth to her second infant. The newborn joins its older brother, Howie, who was the first sloth born at the National Aquarium in September 2008.
The new baby has been clinging to its mother, and aquarists suspect it will remain that way for several weeks. At this time the sex of the baby is undetermined. At birth it was approximately 8 inches long and fully haired with its trademark claws. As time goes on, the young sloth will begin exploring its immediate surroundings and eating solid foods. Sloths can remain dependent on their mothers for up to one year. Our animal care staff will respect the natural process and allow Rose to care for her baby.
Continue reading ‘New addition to the sloth family’
This week the Aquarium is celebrating the birthday of our very first sloth baby!
Baby Howie, a Linne’s Two-toed Sloth was born on exhibit in the Upland Tropical Rainforest on September 2, 2008. His parents, Rose and Syd as well as another adult female sloth, Ivy, have remained on exhibit with Howie as he has grown over the last year.
At birth Linne’s Sloths weigh only 1 pound and are born with their eyes opened, claws intact and fully furred. They hold tight to their mothers and rely on them for warmth, security and milk for approximately one year. By this age, the baby sloth is normally a whopping 5 pounds and ready to venture out on its own. Howie and Rose parted ways right on schedule on August 31, just 2 days shy of his first birthday. Here is a picture of Howie and Rose, just days before they parted ways:
Howie can often be seen napping or enjoying his diet of zucchini, squash and grapes. Because the sloths live nestled in the rainforest trees, they are hard to spot! During your next visit to the Aquarium’s rainforest be sure ask an exhibit guide to help you find Howie and the other sloths.
In lieu of presents, you can TXT the word ACT to 20222 to give Howie a gift! Your $5 donation will support the care and feeding of Howie and his 16,000 friends at the Aquarium.