The sloth’s nature allows them to conserve energy, moving slower than all other mammals. This humble speed implies that sloths generally travel no more than 28 meters (125 feet) in a single day. However, this sloth named Gordon is special. He’s got an incredible relationship with his zookeeper and quite literally refuses to get out of bed until they’ve completed their morning routine which includes lots of cuddles!
Gordon the sloth, from Drusillas Park in Sussex, took a particular liking to its keeper Amelia Jones when the pair initially met two years ago. The unlikely duo began their friendship, when Gordon started acting differently around Amelia than he did with the other keepers and attendants.
Amelia’s nerves around working with sloths are what she thinks urged Gordon to grow on her and begin to show affection all within an attempt to make her feel calm. From that point, their relationship bloomed and now Gordon will not even so much as move until he’s ‘been cradled like a baby’ by his #1 zookeeper.
However, their routine doesn’t end there, as Gordon then expects Amelia to take him on a little adventure around the zoo so that they can maximize their time together.
Amelia said, “When I first started working with our sloths, I was actually a little bit intimidated by sloths, they are powerful animals and I used to keep my distance. Gordon lives with our hand-reared sloth, Flash, and Flash is very confident around humans and often acted like the boss with me. However, Gordon took a very gentle approach with me, like he knew I was nervous, and would slowly come to where I was, peer at me sweetly, and patiently watch me work.”
Gordon, like most sloths, enjoys a diet which consists mainly of buds, leaves, and tender shoots. They have a multi-compartment stomach that helps them to effectively digest the rough and tough cellulose that they eat. However, this is a slow process (seemingly like everything else with these cuddly creatures.) It can take upwards of 30 days to digest just one single leaf!
Gordon is so attached to Amelia, that he gets extremely grumpy if she doesn’t have time for their extraordinary routine. Gordon is now to the point where he’ll actually pick up a sponge and bucket when Amelia is cleaning his enclosure as if he were going to help her.
“The day I realized I had accidentally created a routine with him, was one morning when I was in a rush and only had time to walk him quickly to his enclosure,” Amelia said, “When I put him down, he started pawing at me and pulling my t-shirt and acting really grumpy. And he stayed in a grumpy mood with me the rest of the day. That’s when it clicked that he’d expected his normal tour and was very unhappy it didn’t happen!”
Gordon and Amelia’s extraordinary bond continues to develop, and their morning cuddle and zoo adventures are now a firm fixture on the everyday agenda.
Who knew sloths could be so loving?