July 11, 2020

Buttonwood Park Zoo Introduces Female Sloth


New Bedford, Massachusetts: As its monumental 125th anniversary year s-l-o-w-l-y comes to a close, the Buttonwood Park Zoo continues to rack up a number of “firsts” in 2019.

Early this summer, the Zoo welcomed their first endangered red pandas to a brand new habitat and now is thrilled to introduce the SouthCoast’s first female Hoffman’s two-toed sloth, Sandy.

Lysander, who has been affectionately nicknamed “Sandy”, is a 10 year-old sloth, born at the Philadelphia Zoo on June 10, 2009. She arrived at the BPZoo in early October and has successfully completed a thirty-day quarantine period which includes examinations and diagnostic tests. The quarantine process provides Zoo staff the opportunity to assess the health of the incoming animal and ensure the health and safety of those already residing at the Zoo. It also allows the animal to acclimate to their new home and for animal care staff to observe their behaviors and develop a relationship. Sandy is described as being shy and aloof, and prefers to sleep at the highest point of her enclosure- which in the Zoo’s Rainforests, Rivers & Reefs building, is 20 feet high. She is said to love carrots, beets, broccoli and romaine lettuce- which her Zoo Keepers are able to feed to her by hand- as well as browse like mulberry, hibiscus, mallow flowers and zinnias.

With her quarantine complete, Sandy joined the Zoo’s male sloth, 18 year-old Bernardo, in Rainforests, Rivers & Reefs on Friday, November 18, 2019. While Bernardo will continue to reside in his “Brazil” habitat, Sandy is making herself comfortable in “Peru”. Zoo staff will give her ample time to adjust to her environment before introducing her to Bernardo.

Sandy was brought to New Bedford based on a recommendation as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which the BPZoo is actively participating in. The goal of the SSP is to cooperatively manage animal populations to ensure the sustainability of a healthy and genetically diverse population while enhancing the conservation of this species in the wild.
Bernardo and Sandy are two of the 76 animals at 34 AZA institutions under the Hoffman’s Two-Toed Sloth Species Survival Plan. It is the hope of the BPZoo and the AZA that the two will be a successful breeding pair.

Two-toed sloths are one of the world's slowest mammals and are identified by the number of long, prominent claws that they have on each front foot. They can live over 40 years in human care.

Rainforests, Rivers & Reefs sponsored by Stoico/FIRSTFED opened in July 2017. This innovative indoor exhibit introduces guests to species found in the rainforests and rivers of South America through four naturalistic, multi-species habitats representing countries of South America. It is one of the first major projects completed under the Zoo’s Master Plan and showcases the Zoo’s work with a variety of endangered species.

The BPZoo offers “Keeper Chats”, an opportunity to learn more about these slow moving animals, daily at 12:30 pm in the Rainforests, Rivers & Reefs building. The Zoo is located at 425 Hawthorn Street in New Bedford and is open from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm daily throughout the winter.

About Buttonwood Park Zoo & Buttonwood Park Zoological Society
The Buttonwood Park Zoo (BPZ), established in 1894, is the 12th oldest zoo in the United States and is also celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. The Buttonwood Park Zoological Society, a private, non-profit organization, was founded in 1969 to support the BPZ so that the Zoo will be a significant contributor to the conservation of wildlife both locally and globally. The Zoological Society is partially funded through the Mass Cultural Council’s Cultural Investment Portfolio Gateway Grant. BPZ features over 180 species, most notably Asian elephants, bison, cougars, black bears, eagles, seals, otters, South American primates and numerous waterfowl species. BPZ is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and has been recognized as "one of the finest small zoos in the United States”. For more information, visit www.bpzoo.org or call (508) 991-6178.


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