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A continuation of my description of our May 7th visit to Como Park Zoo & Conservatory …

After visiting the Como Park Conservatory and taking boatloads of pictures, my family and I decided to check out the zoo portion of the site. We had a marvelous time because it was rainy and cool that day, so the zoo was not crammed with visitors. At times, it felt as though we had the zoo all to ourselves, our own private bestiary.

We went through the indoor rain forest area first, pausing for a long time at the Tree of the Sloth because … (dramatic pause) … the sloth was actually awake. We’ve never seen the sloth awake in all the times we’ve been to Como Zoo. This was quite the occasion. There was a zoo volunteer stationed near the Tree of the Sloth (that’s what I’m calling it, anyway) precisely because the sloth was awake and moving around in the tree.

As we watched the sloth stretch slooooooowly and shift from branch to branch slooooooowly, Hubby got to wondering if the sloth ever left this particular tree, which wasn’t a tree at all, but a cement approximation of a tree. I went over to the zoo volunteer and asked her about this, plus I threw in a number of questions of my own. The zoo volunteer was knowledgeable and willing to answer my queries. Here’s what I now know about the Como Zoo sloth:

Her name is Chloe and she’s been with the zoo since around the time it opened. She has been trained to stay in her tree during the day, but has come down a couple of times to eat dirt at the base of the tree. The day we visited was one of those dirt-eating days. The dirt may be needed for her digestion. In the evening, after the zoo closes, the zookeeper calls Chloe out of the tree. Because she moves so slowly, it takes her time to come when called. She is fed and has another place to stay during the night. [Thanks to the zoo volunteer who provided this information. 🙂 ]

Did you know sloths could be trained? Neither did I. After learning this, when a boy said something about training beavers to help lumberjacks cut down trees during a school tour I was giving, I was reminded of Chloe and thought, If a sloth can be trained, why not a beaver?

Of course I took pictures of the momentous occasion of the movements of Chloe the Sloth.

Chloe the Sloth, Como Park Zoo, May 7, 2010.

Chloe the Sloth, Como Park Zoo, May 7, 2010. Chloe's movements were so slow and graceful that she appeared to be doing ballet. Here, she is stretching.

Chloe the Sloth, Como Park Zoo, May 7, 2010.

Chloe the Sloth, Como Park Zoo, May 7, 2010. Check out her hooked claws. Her hair looks nicely combed.

Chloe the Sloth, Como Zoo, May 7, 2010.

Chloe the Sloth, Como Zoo, May 7, 2010. Stretching again. Chloe's favorite movements were stretching and scratching, both done in slow motion.

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