Here’s something to cheer you up if you’re having a rough week. There is a retirement home for sloths in Wales.
You could be forgiven for thinking that sloths are all old, given that they spend a load of time asleep and move at a glacial pace, but this home is exclusively for sloths of a certain age that have been kept in zoos but now need a well-earned rest.
Folly Farm – a zoo in Pembrokeshire – is now the home of Tuppee and Lightcap, aged 24 and 34 respectively. As it happens, Lightcap is the fifth oldest sloth in European zoos.
The average two-toed sloth lives until it is about 20 years old in the wild, but in captivity they have been known to live much longer. Some of them even reach the ripe old age of 50.
It’s a hard life for sloths, but not now they are at Folly Farm. Credit: Folly Farm
The curator of the zoo, Tim Morphew, says that the decision to take in elderly sloths was not necessarily what they set out to do, but was made with conservation of the species in mind.
He told the BBC: “We’re helping conservation efforts at other zoos by freeing up enclosures for younger, breeding pairs.
“Initially we didn’t make a conscious decision to home older sloths.
“Conservation is key for us at Folly Farm and our breeding programmes are a huge part of that, but our older animals are just as important to us and we need to make sure they’re looked after in their old age.
“With the older sloths, we might boil their root vegetables to make them softer and easier to eat and, if they’re showing signs of old age, add supplements like cod liver oil into their diet.
“Depending on how they get on, we might also look at adapting the enclosure to make the floor deeper and reduce the height of branches, so they don’t have as far to climb down.”
This article is about old sloths, but here’s a baby one – just ‘cos. Credit: PA
Tuppee, the younger of the two, has been living at Folly Farm since 2016. Lightcap was brought in from Bristol Zoo more recently.
Apparently, sloths can follow a similar pattern to some older people, as in, they can be quite – shall we say – particular in their habits.
Morphew continued: “Like many older men, Tuppee has been known to be a bit grumpy and even misbehaves at times, but we know he’s a softie at heart.”
Well, we all have those moments, no matter what age we are.
A two-toed sloth. Credit: PA
He added: “Sloths aren’t known for being social animals, but as they get older we’ve found they do like company.
“Who knows, soon we may even be in a position to expand the retirement home further.”
Let’s hope so. Sloths are awesome.