Love is a slow burner for Zoo’s sloths
Thursday 19 August 2010
Prince the two-toed sloth has been somewhat unlucky in love. His last girlfriend turned out to be male, and now it seems ZSL London Zoo’s male sloth has another obstacle to overcome… his shyness.
Sloths are notoriously hard to sex and only recent advances in ultra sounding led to the discovery that Prince’s original mate, Sheila, wasn’t a “sheila” at all.
Once keepers realised the pair were not destined to be together as part of the European breeding programme, they decided to replace “her” with playful Dutch sloth Marilyn in the hope that the Zoo can successfully rear its first two-toed sloth baby for over 100 years.
They introduced three-year-old Marilyn to the Zoo’s new Rainforest Life exhibit when it opened at Easter. But apprehensive Prince, 25, has yet to be seen mating with the blonde bombshell.
It seems the presence of feminine Marilyn has given Prince a dose of nerves, so keepers have been encouraging him to move around the rainforest a bit more and make friends by leaving trails of fragrant herbs around for him to follow.
Senior zookeeper, Lucy Hawley says: “Two-toed sloths are very secretive creatures so we are never quite sure what they’re up to but we like to encourage them to meet as often as possible.
“It would be amazing if we were to have a two-toed sloth baby at ZSL London Zoo, we haven’t bred them since the 1800s so it would be a very special baby.”