Germany celebrates world's oldest sloth

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Paula the sloth, Halle Zoo, Germany, 2019Image source, HENDRIK SCHMIDT/Getty Images
Image caption,
Paula is about 90 in human years

A zoo in Germany is celebrating its new record-holder Paula, who has just become the oldest known two-toed sloth in the world.

Paula lives in Halle Zoo in central Germany, and at 50 years of age she has been entered into the Guinness Book of Records, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reports.

Jutta Heuer, a keeper at the zoo and an authority on sloths, says "we applied on Paula's behalf, and her record has been confirmed" - just ahead of World Sloth Day on 20 October.

Paula, who arrived in Halle in 1971, has already made the headlines once before this year, when she marked her 50th birthday in June with a plate of her favourite treat - cooked maize and vegetables.

Her keepers estimate she was at least two years old when she reached Germany from South America, but for more than 20 years they thought she was a he.

They only discovered Paula was female in 1995 after an ultrasound scan, the Deutsche Welle news site reports.

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"There is no known sloth anywhere in the wild or in captivity that's clocked up more years," said Ms Heuer, who keeps the official tally of sloths in Europe.

There were 65 in German zoos and 266 elsewhere in Europe at the start of this year, she told the dpa news agency.

Two-toed sloths can live to about 20 years in the wild, and 30-40 in zoos.

Jutta Heuer says Paula is still quite energetic despite her great age, which the keeper estimates is the equivalent of at least 90 in human years.

Image source, HENDRIK SCHMIDT/Getty Images
Image caption,
Paula is used to the limelight

Reporting by Martin Morgan

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