A two-toed sloth recently put on public exhibit at the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero was found dead by local zookeepers on Sunday morning.
Officials say early indications are that the 4-year-old Rayne likely passed away overnight and may have suffered a heart attack, though a necropsy will be performed by the zoo veterinarian to determine the cause of death.
The Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth had been at the zoo for over a year and a half and was well-acclimated to the zoo and his keepers despite only recently going on display, the city of Atascadero said in a news release.
One of the world’s slowest animals, the sloths weigh an average of about 12 pounds, can reach up to 27 inches in length, and sleep about 15 hours a day.
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Atascadero officials say the tropical Central and South American rainforests are the sloth’s natural habitat, and Rayne had not shown any signs of illness or distress leading up to his death despite local temperatures in the triple digits over the weekend.
Zoo Director Alan Baker said in a prepared statement Monday that zookeepers are heartbroken over the loss.
The Charles Paddock Zoo houses about 200 animals.