Sloths Versus Benny

As many of our readers know, Benny and I love sloths. Recently a Zooillogix reader, Jennifer Lapsker, traveled to Costa Rica for a sloth-filled vacation. During her adventure, she was kind enough to pick up a book from the Sloth Sanctuary entitled "THEY ARE NOT BEARS AND THEY ARE NOT LAZY!" While the title chastises you for your ignorant sloth prejudices, the publication is full of fun facts written in a less accusatory tone.

As informed by the book, we bring you the first Zooillogix trivia game - 3 Toes, 2 Toes or Benny?!

Question #1: Do sloths and Benny have 2 toes or 3 toes?

Answer: All sloths have 3 claws or "toes", although Bradypus variegatus has 3 longer "fingers" and Choloepus hoffmani has only 2 of these longer "fingers." Benny? He was born without hands! That means Question #1 was a trick question. This is going to get really hard...

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Cap'n 3 Toes, Bradypus variegatus, known in Costa Rica as El Diablo de Tus Pesadillos con Tres Punales Sangriento

Question #2: How do sloths protect themselves from predators if they move so slowly?

Answer: Sloths have no natural scent making them difficult for predators to detect. They do, however, smell like vegetation thanks to special algae that grows on their hair. Benny emits a foul odor when he is frightened or sexually aroused.

Question #3: How long do sloths live?

Answer: No one knows how long sloths live in the wild. Some Choloepus have lived more than 40 years in captivity, but no Bradypus - except Buttercup (the Sanctuary's first sloth) and her three babies - has survived captivity at the Sanctuary for more than a few months. Benny is currently 27 but looks much much older.

Lil 2 Toes, Choloepus hoffmani, known in Costa Rica as Oso Perezoso que Se Niega de Arar Mi Campo

Question #4: How do sloths mate?

Answer: We don't know for certain. At the Costa Rican Sloth Sanctuary, Chloepus has been observed mating front-to-front and it is assumed they use the same technique in the wild. Much like Bradypus, Benny has no external genitalia and his mating habits are unknown.

Question #5: Do Sloths Need to Drink Water?

Answer: No, they get all the moisture they need from succulent leaves. On the other hand, Benny travels everywhere with a Nalgene bottle attached to his belt, to convince fellow San Franciscans that he enjoys "being active."

Question #6: ?Por que no se le puede ensenar a los perezosos bebes como vivir en estado natural?

Answer: This strange devil-tongue from the opposite side of the book confuses and frightens me.

Question #7: Do sloths ever come down to the ground?

Answer: Yes. Once every five to eight days they leave the safety of the forest canopy to defecate at the base of a favorite tree. Born without hands, Benny is unable to climb trees or lock bathroom doors behind him.

Question #8: How does the Sloth Sanctuary pay for all of this?

Answer: Via generous donations from Zooillogix readers! Find out how to donate at the bottom of this page.

Baby sloth video extravaganza below!

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Dang! These were tough. Who knew Benny would be so contrarian?

When I went to Costa Rica we were walking along a dirt path in a park and saw a bunch of people who were looking at something, so we went over to see and it was a sloth crossing the road... I'm sure there are all sorts of jokes that could be made from this, but it seriously took about 10 minutes for the thing to make it all the way across. The path was maybe 20 feet across and it kept stopping and looking at everyone, then considering whether it should turn back, then continuing for another foot or two, etc. As surprisingly graceful as sloths look in the trees, they look that much more awkward on the ground :)

Good-morning, sloth-friends! I'm in Chicago and heading for the Field Museum this a.m. and then the Shedd Aquarium in the afternoon. Must be back to hotel about 15:30.
I'll be in the lobby or gift shop of the Field Museum at 13:00, waiting for my S.O. so we can eat and go to the Aquarium. If you are around, feel free to join us or just drop by to say hello. (I'm on the left at the back in this sciencebloggers photo.)

Ooops! I was still on Eastern time. We're back to meeting at 13:00 in the lobby of the Field Museum or its gift shop. Then probably walking over to the Shedd Aquarium for 1.5 hours.

Two question #3's?

By themadlolscientist (not verified) on 04 Jun 2008 #permalink

themadlolscientist - why must you turn my blog into a house of lies?

When I was at the Pittsburgh zoo, the sloth was chilling in a milk crate. Your fact book apparently fails to address such shenanigans.

By lizcarter (not verified) on 21 Jul 2008 #permalink

i love sloths i thought i was the only one !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!*****