RISING SUN — Sid the two-toed sloth made his debut Saturday at Plumpton Park Zoo.
Although he's been in the care of the zoo at 1416 Telegraph Road near Rising Sun for about a year, he only recently was added to the public display. Cheryl Lacovara, director of the zoo, said they had to work with Sid to get him used to being handled. There was also the construction of an enclosure for Sid, strong enough to allow for the Costa Rican native to crawl across its roof and with enough tree branches to mimic his native territory.
"We pushed to get him out this season," Lacovara said Sunday.
Sid came from a sanctuary in Costa Rica.
"In the wild when a baby drops off the mother, the moms keep going," she said, explaining that female sloths know that to go retrieve the baby creates a risk to their own survival. "So the locals pick them up and take them to sanctuaries."
Visitors to Plumpton Park Zoo got a treat Sunday when Lacovara took Sid out of the house inside the enclosure and set the sloth on one of the branches. Young and old started pointing to the brown, furry creature as he lumbered to the top of the enclosure en route back to bed.
"Sloths are generally nocturnal animals," Lacovara said.
Daytime coaxing may become the rule except for nighttime events, such as Brew At The Zoo on Sept. 14 when the zoo is open to adults only from 6 to 10 p.m.
In case you were wondering, the sloth was named for the character in the Ice Age movies. However, zoo officials don't know if Sid is male or female.
"You can't tell by looking at their genitalia. You have to have a DNA test," she said.
For now, Sid is referred to as "he."
Now 2 years old, Sid is fed baby greens such as spinach and kale, and cooked butternut or acorn squash. Zoo staff have a special diet for Sid whose gait is an indication of his overall lifestyle.
"He has a slow digestion," she said.
Feeding him baby green and cooked squash aids in digestion. Several different protein biscuits have been offered to him, and he rejects them, she said.
"Apparently he's a picky eater," Lacovara said.
It's been suggested that maybe Sid would like the biscuits made for marmosets, she added.
A tropical animal, Sid can only be outside when the temperature is above 70 degrees.
"We also have to have high humidity for him," she said.
An existing building next to his enclosure is being renovated to include a humidifier, which will make the humidity level inside around 75%.
Shelly the red-footed tortoise will be Sid's roommate as the two have similar environmental requirements.