Wildlife Learning Center (WLC) is mourning Dash the two-toed sloth. According to Executive Director David Riherd the infant passed after a struggle with illness.
In an email to supporters Riherd said:
“it’s an excruciatingly painful loss, but I know that we all did absolutely everything we could to give him a chance to survive. Dash experienced many health challenges starting at just a few weeks of age. His mother Pauley wasn’t producing enough milk and without showing any outward signs he slowly became dehydrated and malnourished until one day we found him off of his mom who would not accept him back. In order for Dash to survive, we had to hand rear him with a milk substitute. Dash received intensive around the clock care from our veterinarian.”
” We spent hours trying to get him to eat, and early on, every little drop of goat’s milk he took felt like a major step forward and reason to celebrate. One time while giving him his milk, I remember thinking he was one of the most special animals I have every had the chance to know. As he built his strength, started eating on his own, and steadily grew, we celebrated that he was healthy and fully recovered and started making plans to build him an outdoor home where he would soon move into”
“But during the last several weeks of his life, Dash seemed to have one medical issue after another and took a sudden and major turn for the worse and passed away. The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is currently conducting a comprehensive necropsy and we are waiting for their findings.”
WLC has had several successes in recent times. Riherd hopes the future will be brighter.
WLC is well-known for education and enrichment in schools. WLC brings wildlife into classrooms to help students understand the challenges wildlife face. Dash was part of a Species Survival Plan in which institutions like WLC work to help prevent extinction. As Riherd said:
“Dash was an important individual born into the Species Survival Plan’s (SSP) zoological population of two-toed sloths. The goal of SSP programs is to maintain a zoological population of threatened and endangered species that acts as a safety net to (prevent) extinction. “
Dash the two-toed sloth was named after a contest was held and was scheduled to to move into new housing. Riherd said he expects another sloth to be mated with their resident male as part of the SSP.
According to Brittanica sloths are native to Central and South America. There are two-toed sloths and three toed sloths. They reproduce rarely as the gestation period is about one year and one infant is born at a time.
There are four species of three-toed sloths and two species of two-toed sloths. Two of the four species of three-toed sloths are “least concern” for threats of extinction. One is critically endangered and one is vulnerable. There are two species of two-toed sloths, Choloepus Didactylis and C. hoffmanni. Neither is considered terribly endangered, Brittanica said.
Species Survival Plans are managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Their website says:
“Each SSP Program manages the breeding of a select species or sub-species by collaborating with the AZA Population Management Center (PMC), Reproductive Management Center (RMC), Program Leaders, and Institutional Representatives (IRs) from each participating institution to develop an SSP Breeding and Transfer Plan. Breeding and Transfer Plans summarize the current demographic and genetic status of the population, describe the Animal Program’s management designation, and recommend breeding pairs and transfers. These Plans are designed to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse and demographically stable population for the long-term future.”