Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wild at Heart: The Three-Toed Sloth

Over the next week and a half, I will be bringing you previews of the work that will be exhibited at May 26th's "Wild at Heart: Keep Wildlife in the Wild," the endangered species benefit that Andrew Hosner and I are co-curating at Thinkspace. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Hope to see you there!

White Cocoa "Sloths Do It Slow"

Native to the rain forests of South and Central America, the Three-Toed Sloth lives high in the canopy and only descends to the forest floor once a week, in order to defecate. Its long gray-brown fur is grooved and absorbent, which promotes the growth of a species of blue-green algae that occurs only in sloth fur. Its verdant coloration provides a useful camouflage, making a motionless sloth hanging from a tree limb resemble nothing more than a bundle of leaves. The leisurely lifestyle of the sloth is the result of a very slow metabolism, which causes them to have the lowest body temperature of any mammal.

Because sloths live most of their lives suspended far out on slender tree limbs, they are rarely within reach of predators. They will generally only cross the forest floor when searching for a mate. As sloths are adapted to spend their entire lives hanging upside down, they cannot walk on all four limbs, and must use their claws to drag themselves along, traveling at a top speed of 300 feet per hour. This makes them vulnerable to automobile strikes and predation by jaguars. They are also threatened by habitat loss, hunting by indigenous communities and poaching for the illegal pet trade.

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