Some personal news: I no longer intend to spend my golden years tending a kooky olive oil shop in Arizona, as was the plan last week. Instead, I will be retiring to this sloth retirement home in Wales. Full disclosure, I am not a sloth. I have, however, been told that where there is a will, there is also a way, so.
People reports that the whimsically named U.K. zoo and adventure park Folly Farm now offers aging sloths a quiet place to spend their post-professional years. When it opened in November, the farm’s retirement community consisted of two slow-movers: The curmudgeonly Tuppee, aged 24, and 34-year-old Lightcap (“the 5th oldest sloth in any European zoo,” per Folly Farm, please curtsy to your queen), both of whom sound like excellent company.
Folly Farm believes adopting retired zoo sloths will be beneficial, both from a sloth health and a conservation perspective. The sloth’s natural lifespan reportedly extends significantly in captivity, from 20 to as many as 50 years, and welcoming the old-timers means zoos have more space and more resources to take on younger sloths. According to Folly Farm, the goal is to give the retirees “a comfortable home tailored to their needs as they relax into their twilight years,” and really I think that’s all any of us wants.
“Aching muscles, creaking joints, and slowing down a bit are all things that happen to us as we get older, and most animals are no different,” zoo curator Tim Morphew said. “With the older sloths, we might boil their root vegetables to make them softer and easier to eat and, if they’re showing signs of old age, add supplements like cod liver oil into their diet.” The farm might also lower the height of the branches, so the sloths don’t slip and hurt themselves in nasty lounging accidents. This also seems likely to make the notoriously difficult sloth pooping process easier, which I imagine elderly sloths will appreciate.
As you may know, sloths tend to prefer the solitary life to a life lived among their peers, but according to Folly Farm, they become more amenable to spending time with others as they age. Same, maybe. We’ll see.