A young sloth born at Bristol Zoo Gardens has finally gone on show after 10 months intensive hand-rearing by keepers.
Sid the sloth was born in the Zoo’s nocturnal house, Twilight World, last April, weighing just 500g (1.1lbs). Her mother, Light Cap, was taken ill shortly after giving birth and underwent a spell in the Zoo’s veterinary hospital which prevented her from caring for her baby.
Despite making a full recovery, Light Cap was no longer producing enough milk to feed her baby and the youngster, who was named Sid after the sloth in the popular Ice Age movie, had to be cared for round the clock by a team of dedicated keepers.
In the first few months of her life, Sid needed feeding every three hours, including through the night. She was fed a combination of puppy milk formula and goat’s milk. She also had checks by the zoo vet on an almost daily basis to make sure she was developing well.
The hard work has paid off and now, after almost a year, Sid has re-joined her mother on show in the Zoo’s nocturnal house, Twilight World. She has developed into a strong, healthy and inquisitive youngster, with a particular penchant for green beans.
Assistant Curator of Mammals, Lynsey Bugg, said: “We’re thrilled that Sid is now on show so the public can meet her. She is a very active young sloth and can be seen exploring her enclosure. She has settled in and has been getting along well with her mum. Sid will sometimes cuddle up next to her to go to sleep.”
Lynsey added: “Because she was hand-reared, Sid still likes having the attention of the keepers. However, it is important that she learns how to be a sloth, so we have been weaning her off human contact and now have a completely hands-off policy with her. Hand-rearing animals and then reintroducing them to their families can be tricky, so this has been a great success story.”
Bristol Zoo is part of a European zoo co-ordinated breeding programme for this species. The ultimate aim is for Sid to have a mate of her own in a few years’ time, and to produce babies of her own.
To watch a photo slideshow photos of Sid as she was growing up, click here: http://www.bristolzoo.org.uk/twilight-world. To see a short video of Sid receiving one of her feeds when she was just five weeks old, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smN7AQVTvFo
Sid is a species known as ‘Linne’s two toed sloths’, also known as the southern two-toed sloth.
They are native to South America, and are found in Venezuela, the Guianas, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, north of the Amazon River.
Despite not being at risk from extinction in the wild, habitat destruction and climate change are the biggest threats facing Linne’s two-toed sloths. They are also hunted as food and for their claws and fur, which are used to make necklaces and saddlecloths.
Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.
To find out more about Bristol Zoo, visit www.bristolzoo.org.ukor phone 0117 974 7300.
For press enquiries please contact Bristol Zoo’s press office:
Lucy King, T: 0117 974 7306 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vanessa Hollier, T: 0117 974 7309 or E: email@example.com
Notes to the Editor:
· Sloths are related to armadillos and anteaters
· There are five species of sloths, in two families – either two toed or three toed sloths. The sloths at Bristol Zoo are Linne’s two toed sloths
· They live in the treetops of the rainforest of Middle America and the Amazon rainforest.
· They can grow up to 50 cm (1,8 ft) and can weigh up to 9 kgs and have thick hair to help protect them from rainwater
· They live solitary lives, only coming together to mate.
· They spend their whole life hanging upside down in trees and use their long fingernails to grip.
· They move very slowly as they have a low metabolism
· They eat mostly leaves
· They almost never walk on the ground because they would be easily preyed upon, although they do descend to the ground at the base of a tree to pass urine and faeces and usually do this every three to four days.
· Sloths are extraordinarily good swimmers.
· They cannot see or hear very well, so their sense of smell and touch is very distinctive.
· They give birth only once a year (after a 6-11 month pregnancy), and even give birth while in a hanging position.
· Baby sloths stay on their mother’s belly until they become independent.
· In the wild sloths usually live up to 12-years-old; in zoos or with human help they can live for up to 30 years.
· In the wild sloths’ coats are tinged a green colour due to being full of insects and butterfly grubs which help to camouflage it from predators.
Bristol Zoo Gardens
· Bristol Zoo is open from 9am every day except Christmas Day.
· Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on income from visitors and supporters to continue its important work.
· Bristol Zoo is involved with more than 100 co-ordinated breeding programmes for threatened wildlife species.
· Itemploys over 150 full and part-time staff to care for the animals and run a successful visitor attraction to support its conservation and education work.
· Bristol Zoo supports – through finance and skill sharing - 15 projects in the UK and abroad that conserveand protectsome of the world’s most endangered species.
· In 2011 Bristol Zoo celebrated its 175th birthday. Over that past 175 years, the Zoo has brought six generations of Bristolians closer to wildlife, helped save over 175 species from extinction, established over 30 field conservation and research programmes all over the world, showed 40 millionschool-aged children the wonder of nature and given more than 90 million visitors a wonderful day out.
· In 2010 Bristol Zoo Gardens set up a Conservation Fund to raise vital funds to help care for threatened animals and plants – both in the Zoo and through the conservation work we do in the UK and around the world.
· Bristol Zoo Gardens is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. BIAZA represents more than 90 member collections and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums.