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05 02/05/2013

Sloths have a health check

  • Sloth
  • Mammals
  • Feature - Sloth
  • Habitat - Spirit of the Jaguar

Our vets have given full and thorough health checks to our two-toed sloths Tina and Camillo.

Camillo the sloth at Chester Zoo

It was the very first time they had been able to confirm the genders of the duo, assess their teeth and body conditions and take their weights. Both two-year-olds were given a clean bill of health.

The team also took the opportunity to take an x-ray of Tina’s upper body.

Sloth x ray - Chester Zoo

“Few people may be aware that sloths have more ribs than any other mammal,” said our vet Steve Unwin. “They boast 46 whereas elephants only have 40, horses 36 and humans 24. This fascinating x-ray gives a rare glimpse into the make-up of this wonderful and rather intriguing creature.”

Tina and Camillo can be seen in the zoo’s Spirit of the Jaguar exhibit where staff hope the pair won’t hang around for too long before having babies of their own.

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Tina the sloth under anaesthetic during her general health check up at Chester Zoo
Tina is put under general anaesthetic during the procedure.
Vets check the teeth of Tina the sloth
Vets from Chester Zoo check on the condition of Tina’s teeth.
Vet team give health check to sloth at Chester Zoo

Fast facts

  • Chester Zoo’s two, two-toed sloths (Latin name Choloepus didactylus) are called Tina (female) and Camillo (male). Both are just over two-years old 
  • The pair arrived at Chester Zoo in Feb 2012 after moving from a zoo in Germany 
  • The two toed sloth is native to South America 
  • Sloths have grooved hair that allows algae to grow there, giving the animals a green tint that helps camouflage them in the forest 
  • The two-toed sloth does everything while hanging upside down from trees, including eating, sleeping, mating, and even giving birth. The only time it comes to the ground is to pass waste, which it does once a week 
  • Sloths move slowly and sleep for 15 hours a day to conserve energy. This is largely due to their low-energy diet of leaves and occasional fruit 
  • Sloths have a powerful grip. Their long claws curve around tree branches like a safety harness 
  • With a muscle mass of only 25 % (most mammals have twice as much), sloths cannot shiver when it’s cold 
  • Big forest cats like jaguars and ocelots, birds of prey such as harpy eagles, and large snakes like anacondas prey upon sloths
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