110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Lynn Bowen
posted Dec 23, 2012 - 8:54:45am
Daisy is the name of a 14-year-old sloth bear who lives at the St. Louis Zoo. She has one of the habits of an anteater and one of the habits of an opossum! Let me explain.
Also on her diet are honey, flowers, fruit, eggs, grubs and carrion. Her straggly coat protects her from insect attacks. Cubs travel on their mother's back, clinging to her fur, like opossums. These traits are true for all sloth bears.
A sloth bear has a short stocky body and powerful legs. Black shaggy fur covers its body except for its face. In the 1700s, a sloth bear's 3-inch-long, thick, non-retractable claws reminded someone of a sloth, and thus the animal was named. It's not a relative of a sloth at all!
Two to 3 feet tall at the shoulder and 5 to 6 feet long, sloth bears weigh between 120 and 310 pounds — the males are larger than the females. Grunts and groans are the noises they make, not ferocious growls.
The original home of sloth bears was in the dry forests, grasslands and thorn scrub of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. This bear is solitary except at breeding time. Both sexes become mature at 3 to 5 years. Hidden usually in a cave, the female has one or occasionally two cubs that weigh only 14 ounces each. The male doesn't participate in raising the cubs; he's back wandering alone once again.
This nocturnal animal doesn't hibernate. If life goes well, it lives to be 40. Sadly, this species is threatened in the wild and faces severe habitat loss. Also, poachers kill sloth bears, mainly for the medicinal market. Their predators are tigers, leopards and humans. What an interesting bear, indeed!
— Bowen lives in DeLand. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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