The Rosamond Gifford Zoo has an exceptionally sleepy and exceptionally adorable new addition – a 6-week-old baby Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth. Born underweight, Ruth as she has been named has bounced back thanks to keepers supplanting her nursing with nutritional formula. Now Ruth is happy, healthy and as active as Two-toed Sloth ought to be, which is to say, pretty laid back. Sloths are not on the endangered species list. However, their habitat is quickly being destroyed, leaving them homeless and vulnerable to a decrease in their population size. They are part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) – a collaborative effort between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and zoos around the world to help ensure their survival.
After years of tremendous success with its sloth breeding program, the zoo took a 16 year hiatus. Ruth is the 43rd sloth born in Syracuse.“After sixteen years, it’s wonderful to once again welcome a baby sloth at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo,” said Mahoney. “I commend the animal staff for their excellent work in caring for the animals.”The baby – the offspring of Bad Eye and Beauregard – weighed 255 grams, about 60 percent of a normal newborn sloth.
Though zoo staff initially supplemented her diet with formula, she is now thriving under the care of her mother. Ruth and her mother are currently spending quiet time together, off exhibit in the nursery.
Sloths are identified by the number of long, prominent claws that they have on each front foot. There are two-toed and three-toed sloths, both of which are built for life in the treetops. They spend nearly all of their time in the canopy, hanging from branches by their long claws. On the ground, sloths are very vulnerable. Their weak hind legs provide no power and their long claws impede their mobility, making them easy targets for predators. Despite their inability to move freely on land, they are surprisingly good swimmers. Sloths are nocturnal and spend 15 to 20 hours sleeping. They are the world’s slowest mammal; to move through the treetops, they slowly advance arm-over-arm, traveling 120 feet or less in an entire day, and seldom leaving the general area of their birth.