MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Zoo Miami will soon have two new residents and they are cute!
Two orphaned sloths are flying in from Panama Friday evening accompanied by Zoo Miami’s Goodwill Ambassador Ron Magill, and Senior Zookeeper Kristen Kendrick.
Magill and Kendrick traveled to Panama this week to meet with wildlife officials and rehabilitators and receive the two orphaned sloths as part of a special loan to Zoo Miami’s Animal Ambassador Program.
Their role will be to educate the public about important conservation messages and the efforts to protect sloths from the illegal pet trade.
The Panamanian government, which is normally very strict regarding the export of native wildlife, has made the rare exception of allowing the export of these sloths because of Zoo Miami’s nearly three decade commitment to Panamanian wildlife conservation efforts.
The pair of two-toed sloths, named “Chelsea” and “Pete,” are approximately 2-years-old.
In order to save their lives, they had to be hand-raised, which prohibits their release back into the wild.
Chelsea and Pete come from the Pan American Conservation Association, which is considered one of the most successful wildlife rehabilitation organizations in Panama. Since its founding in 2005, it has received thousands of injured, orphaned, and sick animals – 90% of which are successfully rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
Sloths are arboreal mammals that are found in the tropical forests of Central and South America. Their popularity soared after the hit movie “Zootopia,” that featured a sloth as one of its stars. They are considered one of the slowest animals on earth moving only about 6 feet a minute on the ground and slightly faster in the trees. However, they are excellent swimmers.
Zoo Miami has worked closely with a variety of organizations including U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Minister of the Environment in Panama to coordinate the importation of these future ambassadors. American Airlines even allowed these unique animals to ride in the cabin as normal passengers within their approved crates so that they can be carefully observed throughout the flight.
Magill and Kendrick even made several TV and radio appearances in Panama to talk about Chelsea and Pete coming to Miami.