Sloth (Linne's two-toed)

Scientific name 
Choloepus didactylus
Marilyn the sloth gave birth to Lento on 12 February 2018, just in time for Mother's Day!

At ZSL London Zoo, we're home to two-toed sloths Marilyn and Leander who live in our Rainforest Life exhibit. 

What they look like

The two-toed sloth, named because of the two long claws it possess on its forelimbs, has long, course hair that is caramel and cream coloured. When threatened, it can slash at predators using its claws to defend to itself. Sloths are themselves a mini eco-system with moths, algae and a multiple other microorganisms growing in their fur, providing them with advanced camouflage.

Animal facts

Sloths are wonderful mammals with some strange features that really make them stand out. Here are just a few curious facts:

  • Sloths are the world’s slowest mammal, yet they’re not as lazy as you might think. Sloths sleep for around 15 hours a day while a tiger can nap up to 20 hours a day!
  • A sloths’ internal organs, such as the heart, spleen, and liver are all arranged to accommodate living upside-down.
  • Sloths don’t do well on the ground, as their weak hind legs mean they have to pull themselves along. However, their strong long arms make them excellent swimmers. They can even hold their breath for up to 40 minutes!
  • Sloths have grooved fur that allows algae to grow through it. This green tint allows the sloth to blend into its habitat – and provides a tasty afternoon snack.

What they eat

Leaves, twigs and fruit

Where they live

Up in the trees of tropical rainforests in the Amazon basin to Venezuela

ZSL's conservation work with sloths

There is a small group of tiny pygmy three-toed sloths, which are Critically Endangered, living on the uninhabited Escudo island in Panama. A team of conservationists from ZSL are surveying the species to build a picture of how these little-known animals are faring. Read more about our work.


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Life span
Up to 40 years