Sex Change Sloth at Drusillas Park
Keepers at Drusillas Park had a rude awakening this week when they discovered that Sofia the sloth, the zoo’s breeding female, is in fact male.
The revelation explained a large number of unanswered questions for Head Keeper, Mark Kenward who could not understand why the group had failed to bond. Sofia was introduced to male Tupee in July 2011 but the pair had not bred and at times had even displayed some hostility to each other.
Mark commented: “When Sofia arrived at Drusillas her medical record stated that she was female and we had no reason to doubt it. We had never looked after sloths before and were relying on the information provided.”
“However, something just didn’t add up, especially when I visited other zoos and saw the behaviour of their breeding pairs. I was determined to get to the bottom of it and going back to basics seemed the best place to start.”
“It is not easy to establish the sex of a sloth and I therefore enlisted the help of Bristol Zoo who were able to assist me. I couldn’t believe it when we discovered Sofia was male, although it now makes perfect sense in terms of the problems we had been experiencing.”
In the wild, Linne’s two-toed sloths are found in tropical rainforests in northern South America. They are very slow moving creatures and spend most of their time hanging upside down in trees, using their four long limbs.
Drusillas Park will now notify the sloth studbook keeper at Halle Zoo in Germany, to gain advice on the best course of action. It is likely that either Tupee or Sofia will be rehomed to another zoo, so a new female can be introduced at the Park.
Mark commented:”I am pleased that I will not be the one making the decision; I would never want to choose between the two animals. Unfortunately we cannot keep our two boys together and it would also be a waste of their breeding potential.”
“Fingers crossed, they will both go on to have their own families but in the meantime it looks like we are going to have to find a more suitable name for Sofia, who has become a new man this week!”