We prefer waves over handshakes. And we’re finding other ways to keep visitors safe from COVID-19.
Last month, our very own animal ambassador became a St. Louis celebrity. Over 300,000 people (and counting) have watched Coconut the Sloth star in our first-ever Virtual Breakfast. And while our caregivers did their very best to answer all your questions during the virtual tour, there were hundreds of others that went unanswered. Because you had so many interesting and inquisitive questions, we thought we’d wake Coconut up for a second go. Take it away, Coconut.
How did Coconut arrive at the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station? – Erica
I was born in another zoo facility and raised by humans before making the journey to St. Louis in February, just weeks before my first birthday. I’m still getting used to large groups of people, but I’m proud to be one of St. Louis Aquarium’s newest animal ambassadors!
What does Coconut eat? – Wyatt, Age Six
I love all food, but my absolute favorite thing to eat is sweet potato. In the wild, sloths like me mostly get nutrients by munching on berries, small fruits, twigs, leaves, algae and even bugs.
What kind of sloth is Coconut? – Jacob, Age 10
My caretaker friends say I’m a Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth (or southern two-toed sloth); but I’m just Coconut, lover of sweet potatoes and fleece pull-overs.
Does Coconut have a good sense of smell? – Olivia, Age Seven
I may have bad hearing and need glasses, but my nose knows all. When I smell my favorite food – or any food, really – it’s chow time.
What and how much do sloths drink? – Colin, Age Five
Unlike many other animals, I don’t need to drink a lot of water every day. The food I eat keeps me hydrated, but I will take a sip of water every now and then.
Do sloths have any predators? – Brett and Sophie
Sloths’ main forest predators are big cats (jaguars and ocelots), large birds (eagles and hawks) and snakes (boa and anacondas). Luckily for me, the most fearful creatures living nearby are the sharks in the Aquarium’s Shark Canyon. But don’t worry. I promise I’m safe and sound in my own habitat.
Are sloths dangerous? – Georgie
I’m very sweet and affectionate to my St. Louis friends! In general, sloths are mostly peaceful animals who just like to chill out in trees. However, wild sloths do present some dangers to people because they can bite or scratch when provoked.
Are sloths not as slow as we all thought? – Stephanie
In the wild, two-toed sloths like myself only move about six feet per minute on the ground and 10 feet per minute in trees. Over the course of a day, most sloths will travel less than half the length of a football field. However, a sloth’s looks can be deceiving – especially when there’s food involved. If you enjoyed breakfast with me recently, you probably noticed how quickly I traveled for snacks.
How big do sloths get? – Greg
Because I’m still a baby, I only weigh about three pounds. Adult sloths can weigh up to 18 pounds and grow to be as tall as two feet, six inches. Nearly 10,000 years ago, my sloth ancestors were about the size of a medium-sized dog!
How old do sloths live to be? – Isla, Age Seven
With the excellent care I get daily, I plan on being a St. Louis celebrity for many, many years! In zoos and facilities like my St. Louis Aquarium, sloths can live over 30 years. In the wild, sloths can live for about 15 years.
Why are sloths’ arms so long? – Carter, Age Seven
We spend almost all our lives hanging in trees, and having long, strong arms helps us move from limb to limb more easily and quickly. Our claws, which we use for climbing and defense, can grow to be four inches in length, too!
What does Coconut feel like? – Hadley, Age Six
Hadley, I’m as cuddly as I look! My fur feels a lot like a soft-bristle hairbrush.
How do sloths communicate with each other? – Adriane
That’s a great question, Adriane! Because we live alone most of our lives, we sloths don’t really talk to each other unless it’s mating season. Sometimes we will hiss – yes, like your kitty at home! – if we get scared, and you may even hear baby sloths call out to their mothers when they get lost.
Why don’t sloths poop in the trees? – Jen
Leaving the canopies of our tropical homes is scary, but there’s a very good reason why we go to the bathroom on the rainforest floor and not in the trees. It keeps us healthy and protected!
In the wild, sloths’ fur can hold a treasure chest of nutrients – nutrients that can only be gathered from the ground floor. As we venture down to use the bathroom, our fur collects things like soil, insects, moths, fungus and rainwater. This helps us to grow funky green algae on our fur. The algae then becomes a healthy meal for us and gives us a layer of camouflage.
Do you give Coconut bubble baths? – Nova, Age Four
Bubble baths sound fun, but they’re not my jam. I take pride in my personal hygiene and try to stay as clean as possible without taking a bath. In the wild, sloths like me might climb down from the trees to rinse off in a river. (Yes, we’re excellent swimmers!)
Do they get fleas or bugs in their fur? – Shelley
I don’t gather many moths, bugs or algae in my fur because I’m cared for and fed regularly by my St. Louis Aquarium family. But sloths who climb and walk around in tropical rainforests will have a variety of insects living in their fur, including beetles, moths and flies.
How many babies can sloths have? – Linda
A mama sloth can give birth to one baby at a time. That baby is raised by its mom for about six months before finding a new home. Don’t worry; many sloth babies and mothers stay near each other in the wild.
Do all sloths sleep 20 hours a day? – Justin
Like people, no two sloths are the same. I like to sleep a lot – up to 20 hours per day – because it feels refreshing, and I’m still young. Older sloths may only sleep 15 hours per day, while sloths in the wild may only need eight hours of shut-eye.
Are sloths most active in the morning? – Kelsey
Most sloths are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. I’m a special type of sloth who enjoys the morning ritual of having breakfast with my family! Keep an eye open for more virtual breakfasts with yours truly.
Thanks for hanging out with me. Sorry it took so long to get these questions answered – sloths like moi tend to move at our own sloth-y pace! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some sleep to catch up on.
Check Out Your Coconut-Inspired Works of Art!
Become Vincent Van Coconut and find inspiration for your own sloth masterpiece right here.
Live Aquarium Virtual Tours: Every Monday, Wednesday & Friday
The St. Louis Aquarium may be temporarily closed, but our animals are still strutting their stuff. Luckily, you can watch them show off on our live “Quaranstream” events on Facebook every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 10 to 11 AM (CDT). Just follow our Facebook page, click that “★ Interested” button, and make us a part of your class’s weekly eLearning program or next virtual field trip.