- Associated Press - Thursday, March 24, 2016

DECATUR, Ill. (AP) - After months in Scovill Zoo’s indoor animal care center, Eden the two-toed sloth received a throng of visitors March 8.

Apple slices offered by keeper Grace Erker proved sufficient motivation for her to climb out of a hanging laundry basket and down to the proffered fruit. She spared a few glances at the children, parents and grandparents who had gathered to watch, but for them, she was the star of the show.

The visit came at the close of Sleepy Sloths, the latest installment of the monthly Zoo Buddies program for 3- to 5-year-olds. New this year, the offering has proven immensely popular; next month’s subject, Fabulous Flamingos, is already sold out.

Education and volunteer coordinator Maggie Duewerth leads the activities. She began Tuesday with the reading of “‘Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,’ said the Sloth,” a book by Eric Carle.

The kids then made magnets that depicted a sloth hanging from a branch, complete with textured green patches to represent the algae that can grow on the slow-moving mammals, as well as masks in the round, distinctive shape of a sloth’s face.

Sloths live in Central and South America, where they mostly hang out in trees and only come down once a week to use the bathroom, Duewerth told the kids.

“Our sloth can be a little feisty sometimes,” she said, revealing Eden’s attraction to garden hoses. Once, when a keeper was cleaning the enclosure, Eden used her curled claws to snatch the hose and take a bite of it, spraying water everywhere.

They sleep 20 hours a day. “If you were to sleep all day and night, and only wake up for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you’d be a sloth,” Duewerth told the kids.

Nora Panganiban, who will turn 3 next month, brought along a small stuffed sloth, appropriately named “Slothee.” Her mom, Jennifer Panganiban, said Nora had researched sloths before coming and is very interested in animals generally.

“Have you been asking to come to the zoo all winter long?” she said.

“Yeah,” Nora acknowledged.

Claire Heidel, 3, enjoys swimming and was excited to learn that sloths like it, too. When each participant received their own plush sloth at the close of the event, Claire immediately named hers Sid after the ground sloth character in the “Ice Age” movies.


Source: (Decatur) Herald & Review, https://bit.ly/1TLnhUu


Information from: Herald & Review, https://www.herald-review.com

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