oldest sloth jan hanging on a rope

Jan the sloth has more than doubled his life expectancy after marking his 54th birthday.

The male Linne’s two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus), who lives at Krefeld Zoo in Germany, has lived so long he’s become the oldest living sloth in captivity and the oldest sloth in captivity ever.

But don’t be tricked into thinking Jan has been lazing around and living life at a slow pace – he’s just fathered his 22nd child.

oldest sloth jan looking for a snack

He was born in the wild in South America and was estimated to be around six months old when he was found on 1 May 1970, meaning he’s now at least 54 years old.

He’s lived at the zoo since 30 April 1986, and is still in great health according to his keepers.

The zoo nominated 30 April as his birthday and celebrates with him every year.

According to WWF, two-toed sloths usually live for around 20 years, meaning Jan has way more than doubled his life expectancy.

Sloths in captivity do generally live longer – usually between 30 and 40 years.

Both of Jan’s records were previously held by Paula, another Linne’s two-toed sloth, who lived at Halle Zoe in Germany until the age of 51.

Sloths are known for their very slow movements, and this is as true on the inside as it is on the outside.

The animals feed mostly on leaves, fruit, and tree sap, but eat very little because it takes them so long to digest their food.

It can take days or even weeks for a sloth to make room for its next meal.

Jan, like most sloths, spends most of his time hanging in trees.

oldest sloth jan is now 54

They do practically everything in trees – hanging on with their curved claws – from eating to sleeping and even mating and giving birth.

Despite this, sloths have a peculiar habit of leaving their trees and heading down to the ground when they need to go to the toilet. They are very fussy about their personal hygiene, and therefore, where they do their business.

Two of the six species of sloths are high on the list of endangered species and in the wild they are extremely vulnerable to deforestation.

We wish Jan and his family many happy years to come.

Header imager: Vera Gorissen / Zoo Krefeld

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