A cute sloth has moved into the Brooklyn Children’s Museum
He turns his head languidly like a slow-motion GIF come to life. His soulful brown eyes are dreamy. Who is this lovable low-energy creature?
Meet Roger the Sloth.
Roger is in residence at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. He’s the star of an exhibit of live animals called “Survival of the Slowest” that the Crown Heights cultural venue is presenting in partnership with an organization called Little Ray’s Nature Centres.
The sloth’s temporary home at the museum is a glassed-in landscaped habitat with a tiny hammock holding a fluffy blanket for cushioned naps. And it’s a good thing he has a comfy place to sleep; that’s what he does for up to 19 hours per day.
On Friday afternoon at the museum, Roger was awake — which was nothing short of miraculous, given his sleeping habits. He was wrapped in a blanket like a little prince in the arms of handler Paul Raymond Goulet, aka Little Ray, the Nature Centres’ founder and CEO.
If Roger lived in the lowland rain forest, which is a sloth’s natural habitat, algae would grow in his fur and moths would live in it. This type of moth couldn’t exist without algae-coated sloth fur, Goulet said. “Roger is an ecosystem,” he added.
Because Roger lives in the temperate climate of the northeastern U.S., though, his black-and-gray coat is clean, not green. The weather up here isn’t humid enough for algae to grow there.
Roger’s favorite activity is eating, Goulet said. It must be something he does very slowly, since sloths ingest just 200 calories per day. That’s the number of calories in a medium-sized apple, plus one stick of string cheese.
Generally speaking, sloths are herbivores. But Roger will eat anything his handlers put in front of him. He eats eggs. He eats sweet potatoes. He loves salads. “He would eat a dead mouse,” Goulet said.
Roger is 18 months old and has a year to go before he’s full-grown, when he will weigh eight to 10 pounds. Right now, he’s a dainty three-pounder.
Something to know about sloths in general: They attain a speed of around one mile per hour when they’re moving along tree branches while hanging upside down by their front and back feet.
“They’re not fast — but they’re faster than you think,” Goulet said.
When they’re down on the ground, sloths are unable to walk upright or on all fours. They don’t have enough muscle mass for that kind of activity, Goulet said. Instead, they drag themselves on their bellies.
In case you were wondering, Roger is a two-toed sloth. This means there are two claws on his front feet and three claws on his back feet.
Brooklyn residents got their very first look at the star sloth during an exhibition preview on Friday.
Goulet brought Roger out of his habitat to show the toddlers and their caregivers. Everybody was mesmerized. A couple of the children clutched toy sloths that they introduced to Roger.
Goulet also brought several other creatures out of their habitats, one at a time, to show the kids.
They got a good look at another adorable slowpoke, Flash the tortoise.
Flash has stubby feet, like a miniature version of an elephant’s.
Tortoises can’t swim. They hide in their shells as a means of self-defense if they’re in danger because they don’t have “a reasonable expectation of escape,” Goulet told the children.
The tortoise’s shell is its armor, he said.
He also showed the kids Squiggles the black rat snake, who’s 3 1/2 feet long. The record length for this type of snake is 8 1/2 feet, he said.
Black rat snakes are non-venomous. They are constrictors, meaning they overpower their prey with a tight squeeze.
Pinchy the scorpion fit in the palm of Goulet’s hand with lots of room to spare. Goulet said not all scorpions are dangerous and called them “misunderstood.”
“Survival of the Slowest” runs through Feb. 2, 2020, at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum at 145 Brooklyn Ave. in Crown Heights. The museum’s website has hours and admissions prices.
Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.
Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment