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Sloths quickly becoming popular attraction at aquarium

Feb 01, 2018 10:08AM ● Published by City Journals Staff

Loveland Living Planet Aquarium welcomed two sloths last fall. (Loveland Living Planet Aquarium)

It took a while, but sloths finally made their way to the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Draper. 

With great anticipation, the slow-moving mammals made their way to the aquarium last fall. It was the first time these lovable creatures have been on display in the four-year-old facility. 

The sloths — one male and one female — came to the aquarium by way of South America’s Guyana, where the animals’ home was destroyed through deforestation. These two sloths are specially known as Linnaeu’s two-toed sloth, nocturnal animals that sleep up to 18 hours a day. Because sloths don’t move much, they eat infrequently and relieve themselves only once a week. When they do eat, their preferred diet consists of leaves and fruit. Everything sloths do, they do upside down, including sleeping, mating, eating and giving birth.

The sloths were unveiled for public view on Nov. 3. They live in the aviary in the Journey to South America gallery. 

“People are drawn to these animals,” said Caroline Ralston, Loveland Living Planet Aquarium director of marketing and public relations. “Our visitation is higher than expected for this time of year and guests are staying longer. We like to call it the ‘sloth effect.’”

In their natural habitat, sloths can live 10 to 15 years; however, when in captivity, sloths can live up to 30 years, so expect these four-year-old adorable animals to be around for many years to come. 

In recent years, sloths have been a popular attraction in zoos and in media, which makes their arrival in Draper even more exciting. Ralston said coming to the aquarium to check out the sloths is about much more than simply looking at them. It helps visitors appreciate these animals and understand the importance of conservation.

“You never know which animal is going to leave a lasting impression on someone, so it’s important to have animals like sloths that have broader appeal,” she said. “When people come in to see the sloths, they learn about the challenges they face in the wild such as deforestation, and hopefully are inspired to get involved in conservation efforts.”

Since the aquarium’s opening in 2014, more than 3 million eager visitors have visited. There are more than 4,500 animals at the aquarium totaling 550 different species. The facility stretches 136,000 square feet and even includes a massive 300,000-gallon shark tank with a walk-through tunnel, where visitors can view the impressive creatures on all sides. Other popular features of the aquarium include a four-story rainforest gallery, along with four other galleries: Ocean Explorer, Journey to South America, Discover Utah and Antarctic Adventure. The aquarium employs more than 150 workers.

“The sloths have really driven home the fact that we’re more than an aquarium,” Ralston said. “We showcase diverse ecosystems and how species are interconnected as part of one living planet--not just aquatic animals, but also mammals, birds, insects and more. This is most apparent in our Journey to South America Gallery, which houses our sloth exhibit, and where guests can see many different animals co-existing just like they would in their natural rainforest habitat.”

The Living Planet Aquarium is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Mondays from 4 to 8 p.m., families can get in for $5 off. The aquarium is closed on Christmas Day. Adult ticket prices are $19.95. Teens, military, students and seniors can visit for $16.95. Child ticket prices are $14.95, and children 2 and under can get in for free. 

The Living Planet Aquarium is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The aquarium is located at 12033 Lone Peak Parkway in Draper.

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