Baby Sloth at the Denver Zoo

Photo Credit: Ben Vanourek

The Denver Zoo has a new baby sloth! Mom Charlotte and dad Elliott had a sloth baby at the end of January, 2018. The solid-black baby is still really young and very cute. The zoo has 3 sloths – the mom, the baby, and the dad. All are two toed sloths. The mom weighs 20 lbs, and the dad weighs 15 lbs. They have not yet weighed the baby as they cannot get it away from the mom yet. In fact, they cannot even give it a name yet as they do not yet know the gender. The baby’s sex is not visible so they have to wait for it to leave the mom to be able to do a blood test and determine the sex.

The sloths typically sleep for 21-22 hours each day. When they are awake (they are nocturnal), they eat a lot. According to Anton Morrison, a Birdkeeper at the zoo who is taking care of the sloths now, the sloths eat food cut into french fry shapes. No matter the type of food, it still gets cut into strips as it makes it easier for the sloths to grip with their toes. The baby is just now starting to eat solid foods. So far it mainly eats cooked sweet potato sticks. The mom eats a lot of vegetables (carrots, zucchini and squash), fruits during training (like apples and pears), and a special primate gel that has the vitamins and minerals necessary to sustain her.

They live in one of the indoor bird enclosure areas in Bird World because of the temperature and humidity. The sloths tend to ignore the birds, and the birds tend to ignore the sloths. There are also glass walls between exhibits. But be careful, one time I almost fell in as I thought there was glass where there was not. If you are taking pictures, be prepared for your cameras to fog up in some rooms due to high humidity.

The sloths at the zoo come from South America and are not endangered, although there are other species of sloths that are endangered. Sloths come in 2 types – two toes and three toes. They all have really long claws, and they all move extremely slowly. They were interesting, but it was a little bit frustrating to see how long it took to get down the branch when Anton was feeding them. He used a dog clicker to wake them up and then tapped on the branch many times to let the mom know it was feeding time.

Sloths are more popular than they used to be due to the movie “Zootopia” with Flash the sloth. There is also a Geico ad that has a sloth in it (“Game night with a sloth”) and of course, Sid the sloth from “Ice Age.” If you are at the zoo, make sure that you stop by Bird World and see the sloths.