Bristol Zoo sloth reaches milestone birthday - after becoming a dad

  • Watch Rio playing in his enclosure (Credit: Bristol Zoo Gardens)

A beloved sloth at Bristol Zoo Gardens has reached a milestone birthday – just months after becoming a father for the second time.

Rio, a Linnaeus two-toed sloth, is enjoying a busy year after turning 20 on September 1 and he fathered a cub, Noco, in April 2021.

Sloths are becoming increasingly under threat in the wild and Noco is the the first sloth to be born at the zoo in 10 years.

Al Toyne, the Mammals Team Leader, said: "Each and every sloth is important. The actions of humans play a huge role in the future of species across the globe - especially those which negatively impact ecological habitats.

"Sloths depend on the rainforests they live in, however agricultural threats such as wood and pulp plantations and the clearing of space for livestock farming and ranching, will no doubt be having an impact on numbers in the wild.

Linnaeus' two-toed sloths are currently under threat in the wild Credit: Bristol Zoo Gardens

"Sloths are extremely vulnerable on the ground, so without the safety of trees, their future on earth is threatened."

Rio and his female companion Trixie are part of a breeding programme for two-toed sloths which is intended to safeguard their future.

The number of two-toed sloths in the wild is currently unknown, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) who list this species as of 'Least Concern'.

It is acknowledged there is a continuing decline in the size and quality of their rainforest habitats.

Al said the pair and their infant Noco are all healthy and comfortable in their enclosure at the zoo.

He said: "Sloths are remarkable and they are really strong.

"They have a very clever system where they have to physically open their claws to grip onto branches. When they relax their claws are closed, which is the opposite to us humans.

"It means they can hang suspended for longer periods of time, though they like to sleep with support underneath them."

Rio has been at the zoo for 13 years and even though he is 20 years old he could still have many more years ahead of him.

Al said: "Sloths in zoos can certainly live well beyond 30 and some go on to reach their 40th birthdays."