Hang with Sloths at the Ararat Ridge Zoo

by Ark Encounter on March 12, 2020

The Ararat Ridge Zoo is growing! On March 3, we introduced our newest additions to the zoo at the Ark Encounter: Felix and Eutychus. These amazing animals are Hoffman’s two-toed sloths. Check out what makes these sloths so unique.

Slow Movers

Sloth Drinking

Renowned for their slow movement, sloths are one of the most unique animals in the world today. All are native to the rainforests of Central and South America. They belong to one biblical kind under the suborder Folivora, which translates in Latin as “leaf-eater.” Only six species remain today.

Sloths also have extremely low metabolic rates, less than half of what is typical for other mammals their size. This explains their slow movements; they move only when necessary, and their average speed is 13–15 feet per minute.

Two or Three Toes?

Sloth Hanging

Sloths spend the vast majority of their lives hanging upside down in trees. Although all sloths have three long, sharp, hooked claws or “toes” per hindfoot, they either have two or three claws on their front feet to help them hold on to branches.

Three-toed sloths include the brown-throated, pale-throated, maned, and pygmy. They are nocturnal and have been rumored to hybridize. Two-toed sloths include the Linnaeus’s and the Hoffman’s. They are larger than the three-toed sloths, may be awake during the day, and have been known to hybridize. Hoffman’s two-toed sloths are named after the German naturalist Karl Hoffman.

Other Fun Facts

Sloth Face

  • Even though sloths move slowly in the trees, they are excellent swimmers. They will purposefully fall out of trees into bodies of water to avoid predators or swim to different locations at a speed of 44 feet per minute!
  • Although sloths have poor sight and hearing, they have an excellent sense of smell.
  • Their digestive process can take up to a month to complete, and two-thirds of a sloth’s body weight may be just its stomach contents.
  • Sloths only come down from the trees about once a week, as they can barely move due to their claws and weak hind limbs.
  • The hair on sloths is directed dorsally to allow water to flow off their bodies while hanging upside-down.

About Felix and Eutychus

Like the other animals at the Ararat Ridge Zoo, our zookeepers intentionally picked the names of our sloths. They are named after biblical characters and carry two of the narratives of the apostle Paul.

Felix Sleeping

Felix means “happy” or “lucky.” Antonius Felix was the Roman procurator of Judea during the life of the apostle Paul, who stood trial before him. Although Paul was imprisoned under Felix, the procurator favored him. Our sloth Felix is 3 years old and is much larger than our next featured sloth, Eutychus.

Euthychus Eating

Eutychus means “fortunate.” He was a young man who fell asleep and fell out of a third story window and died while listening to the apostle Paul preach. Paul then brought him back to life. Eutychus the sloth is 2 years old and has a fun, goofy personality.

Come See for Yourself!

Sloth Sitting

The sloth exhibit is located at the front of the Ararat Ridge Zoo. They will be in an indoor enclosure that is viewable to the public unless it is over 70 degrees outside, when they will be given access to their outdoor yard during the day. Plan your visit to the Ark Encounter to meet our newest friends!