A New Baby Sloth is Born at the Honolulu Zoo

This is the fourth two-toed sloth born here in four years.
Baby Sloth 2
Photo: Courtesy of the Honolulu Zoo

There’s a new addition to the Honolulu Zoo.

Harriet, a Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth, gave birth Dec. 18 at the zoo in Waikiki. Both mom and baby are currently on display.

This is the fourth baby sloth born at the Honolulu Zoo to Harriet and her mate, Quandro. It’s too early to determine whether the latest baby sloth is male or female, so the newborn doesn’t have a name yet. Tommy was born on Sept. 18, 2017, and sisters Akala and Opihi arrived on July 17, 2016 and April 24, 2015, respectively.

The Honolulu Zoo participates in several of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Programs, which include the Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth, also known as a southern two-toed sloth. As part of this program, Harriet and Quandro are considered a genetically valuable pair. Sloths don’t breed easily in zoos, so the fact that this pair has produced four offspring in four years is remarkable.

Don’t know much about two-toed sloths? Here are some fun facts, compiled by the Honolulu Zoo:

  • Sloths are native to Central and South America and are found in the rainforest canopy.
  • The lifespan in the wild is 15 to 20 years, but they can live longer than 30 years in captivity.
  • Sloths have long tan, gray or brown fur. During the rainy season—like now—their fur appears bluish green due to a blue-green algae that covers their coat. The algae helps to further camouflage the sloth from predators.
  • Sloths spend almost their entire lifespan hanging upside down from tree limbs. On the rare occasion they do venture to the ground, they move extremely slowly (hence the name) and walk upright.
  • Sloths eat, sleep, mate and give birth upside down.
  • Sloths are very good swimmers.
  • Two-toed sloths are nocturnal and sleep about 16 to 18 hours a day. They start to get more active about an hour after sunset and wind down two hours before dawn.
  • Sloths are herbivores and eat leaves, young shoots and fruit. They don’t have incisors; instead, they use their tough lips to tear off food.
  • Sloths give birth to one baby at a time. Offspring typically stay with their moms for nine to 12 months.

To learn more, visit honoluluzoo.org.

Categories: News, Oʻahu