By Mikey Jones
Animal lovers have set up a retirement home for ageing SLOTHS to spend their golden years enjoying an even slower pace of life.
Folly Farm in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, has decided to start homing older two-toed sloths which have retired from other zoos.
The special facility aims to give ‘silver sloths’ a place to relax – and help conservation efforts by freeing up zoo enclosures for younger breeding pairs.
And the farm already has two elderly residents – an adorable male and female pair called Tupee, 24, and Lightcap, 34, who is currently the fifth oldest sloth in any European zoo.
Senior zoo supervisor Rosie Grissin, 30, said: “This is something no one else is doing.
“The question of where elderly animals go is not something people tend to think about – everyone loves seeing baby animals in zoos, but no one has thought about the older animals before.
“Luckily for sloths, it’s not like they’re pace of life is changing too much as they get older – it has always been pretty slow.
“It’s just about keeping a close eye on them, as just like elderly people, smaller things can affect them more.
“This is the time for them to kick back, and for us to really look after them and give them a bit more TLC in a smaller setting.
“They have so many adorable qualities which really remind us of an old married couple.
“At the start Tupee and Lightcap were a bit weary of each other, but they do get along pretty well.
“They’re both really special and funny.
”Lightcap is a bit of a diva and when she arrived she picked the nicest spot to lie in their enclosure.
“Tupee is lovely and is slightly in awe of her – at first he just stared at her when she stole his spot, but now they cuddle up together.”
Tupee and Lightcap moved to the farm after calling it a day on more than 30 years living at other zoos across the UK.
Now putting their feet up in their old age, the pair spend each day dozing and eating inside a specially-adapted enclosure.
As they grow older, staff will reduce the height of branches so they don’t have as far to climb down and supplement their diet with cod liver oil.
Usually two-toed sloths have a lifespan of 20 years in the wild but have been known to live to up to 50 in captivity, although they would stop breeding in their 20s.
Zoo staff said it was not initially a conscious decision to home older sloths but they soon realised the positive affect it could have on the future of the species.
And while there are no immediate plans to expand the retirement home, they haven’t ruled it out.
Rosie added: “The zoo was also fully aware of what we would be achieving for conservation efforts by taking on older animals, which was another bonus, as it meant freeing up space for younger breeding pairs.
“As Tupee and Lightcap age, we will adapt their enclosure by making the floor deeper for them so it’s easier for them to climb down.
“We will also have to boil down their vegetables, so they’re easier for them to eat.
“We want to make their lives as comfortable as possible, so they can live out their golden years with us.”