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German sloth sets record as world's oldest

October 15, 2019

Paula, who lives in a German zoo, set a new record as the world's oldest known two-toed sloth. She was entered for the title ahead of World Sloth Day on October 20.

A sloth, Paula, hangs from a branch in a zoo as a man takes a photograph of her
Image: Imago Images/S. Schellhorn

A 50-year-old sloth in a German zoo world has slept her way into the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest known sloth alive.

Paula's title was confirmed on Tuesday, said Jutta Heuer, a curator at the zoo and an authority on sloths in Europe.

The two-toed sloth arrived at Bergzoo in Halle in 1971 and celebrated her 50th birthday at the zoo in June.

Paula the sloth hangs from a branch
Paula came from South America when she was 2 years oldImage: picture-alliance/dpa/H. Schmidt

Read more: Scientists find evidence of prehistoric man-vs-giant sloth battle

She was estimated to have been at least 2 years old when she arrived from South America, via the UK.

For more than 20 years, zoo staff thought that Paula was male. They only discovered she was female in 1995 following an ultrasound scan, according to Guinness World Records.

"There is no known specimen in a zoo or in the wild that has clocked up more years," Heuer said.

According to Heuer, there were a total of 65 sloths in German zoos and 266 in the whole of Europe as of the end of 2018.

In the wild, the typical lifespan for two-toed sloths is around 20 years; in captivity, that increases to 30–40 years.

Sloths: Just hanging around

Kate Martyr Editor and video producer at DW's Asia Desk and News Digital