Zookeepers at Drusillas Park are excited to announce the arrival of their new sloth, Halina. The beautiful Halina arrived at Drusillas a few weeks ago and has been hitting it off with her new roommate, Sophocles ever since.
Zoo Animal Manager, Mark Kenward, said: “As many of our regular visitors know, we have been looking for a mate for our male sloth Sophocles, or Soph as we often call him for short!”
“We were so excited when Tierpark Zoo in Berlin told us that their female sloth Halina was also looking to find a mate; we knew she would be the perfect match for Soph! Halina is three years old and ready to start a family so we’re very hopeful to hear the slow patter of baby sloth feet in the future! Halina is just the most beautiful sloth and we are so happy to have her as part of our zoo family.”
Sophocles has fallen head over heels in love with Halina, but before they met face to face the two began bonding in a very unusual way…Bizarrely, sloths exchange poo to make friends! Keepers spent the first few weeks of the sloth’s introduction, swapping their poo between their enclosures.
Zoo Animal Manager, Mark Kenward, said: “Exchanging poo with a prospective roommate or partner might seem like an odd idea to a human, but not to a sloth! Swapping stools actually helps the sloths get to know each other and get used to each other. Smell is an incredibly
important sense for animals. Poo in particular provides a little parcel of information about the animal who left it. It’s a bit like a postage stamp as to who has been around.”
“This sort of olfactory enrichment gives the impression of another sloth being in the area, and prepares each of them for an encounter. We call this a soft introduction. They learn enough about the other to be comfortable meeting face to face.”
Once the poo swap had run its course, the two sloths were placed next to each other with a mesh divider separating them. Able not just to smell but to see, hear and nearly touch their new neighbour, Sophocles and Halina started to get used to each other.
Zoo Animal Manager, Mark Kenward, commented: “The faeces exchange has been a huge success, it worked really well with our other mating pair of sloths, Flash and Gordon and we are pleased to report the same levels of success with Soph and Halina. The pair seem to be getting on very well indeed.”
Now they are fully settled and happily falling in love, they are living together in a shared enclosure with Drusillas Rodriguez fruit bats and golden lion tamarins.
Zoo Animal Manager, Mark Kenward, said: “We know the public can’t wait to meet Halina, the news of her introduction went crazy on social media, so we are really looking forward to being able to see everyone again and to let you all meet Halina!”