The Metro Richmond Zoo is pleased to announce the opening of a new sloth exhibit. The new habitat, called Animals of the Amazon, features different species of animals native to the Amazon rainforest and other parts of South America. These species include: Two-toed sloth, Red-rumped agouti (a type of rodent), 2 species of tortoise, and 2 species of turtles.
The Animals of the Amazon exhibit allows guests to see different species of animals coexisting as they might in the wild. It is designed to mimic layers of a natural ecosystem: turtles in the water below, tortoises and rodents on the forest floor, and sloths living in the foliage above.
Here are some interesting facts about some of the animals in this exhibit:
Water below: The Matamata turtle has a flattened triangular head with a large, rough knobby carapace. Skin flaps along head and neck help detect prey. They have a tubular snout that acts as a snorkel- only the tip needs to be above water for breathing.
Forest floor: The Red-rumped agouti is a rodent native to forested areas of South America. They prefer access to water because they can swim. They love Brazil nuts, and they are the only mammal in their range that can open Brazil nut husks.
Foliage above: Two-toed sloths are solitary, arboreal, and nocturnal animals. They sleep about 15 hours per day and move very slowly when they are awake. They have a very slow metabolism. Food may take up to one month to ferment and digest in their multi-chambered stomach.