Sloths Trade Faeces for Friendship
Exchanging poo with a prospective roommate might seem like an odd idea to a human, but not to a sloth! Swapping stools is exactly what Drusillas Park’s keepers have been doing to help their two lovely sloths, Flash and Consuela, get to know each other.
After a year of being hand-reared by Head Keeper Mark Kenward and Zoo Keeper Gemma Romanis, little Flash has reached the age where she needs to become independent and familiar with her own species. Her new roommate Consuela, is just 2 months older and arrived at Drusillas last month.
In order to prepare the two for their future living arrangements, Drusillas’ keepers have spent this week exchanging faeces between the two sloths’ enclosures.
Animals rely heavily on their sense of smell
Head Keeper, Mark Kenward said: “Smell is an incredibly important sense for animals. Poo in particular provides a little parcel of information about the animal who left it.”
“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.”
Friendships are forming!
The youngsters are happily keeping each other company and Drusillas is thrilled with the bond forming between the two.
Mark commented: “The faeces exchange has been a huge success. We will definitely be doing introductions like this again in the future. They are still a bit nervous of each other but they are getting along well.”
“Consuela is much more chilled than Flash is. Now they have been introduced she just happily barges into Flash’s box to socialise, whilst Flash shoots us a look as if to say ‘Oi! Do you know she’s in my box again?’”
Once they are settled together the sloths will be moving out into a more public home. However for now, they are living behind the scenes quietly making friends.