Sloths, Snakes Are The Newest Residents At The Indy Zoo

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Sloths, Snakes Are The Newest Residents At The Indy Zoo

Both the 'MISTery Park' and the 'Speed & Venom: Extreme Snakes' exhibits are opening Memorial Day Weekend at the zoo.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Got Sloth? The Indianapolis Zoo does. 

Making their debut this Memorial Day Weekend are the two-toed sloths in the zoo's new MISTery Park.

Meagan Keen, who manages the sloth and bird areas at the zoo, stood next to Quinto, a Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth, inside the Hilbert Conservatory. 

Keen says Quinto, nicknamed Q, is one of the sloths that will be part of MISTery Park beginning May 25. Q traveled from the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, in Syracuse, New York.

Keen says he was part of the SSP, or the Species Survival Program, which helps ensure good genetics throughout the population.

The 15-year-old sloth will lounge around the new exhibit with a slightly smaller sloth named Harvey, spending most of his day sleeping and hanging out in the trees.

"They're meant to live upside down. So, their body is actually designed in that way," said Keen about the sloths. "Their eye sight is different, their ribcage is different, the placement of their organs is different." 

After traveling through mist filled pathways and a tropical rain forest landscape you'll find these slow-moving mammals only an arms length away. However, while you can't reach out and touch them, Keen says you can snap a selfie. 

"We're asking everyone when they come to visit these guys, 'Take your picture with your sloth and hashtag Indy Slothie, and also pledge to use FSC certified products,'" Keen said.

Q and Harvey aren't the only new encounters you could have, the zoo is also opening the Speed & Venom: Extreme Snakes exhibit in the Deserts Dome. 

This exhibit will showcase more than 20 species from around the world, including venomous snakes found right here in Indiana and their new black mamba. 

Regarded as one of the deadliest snakes on the planet, the black mamba has a infamous reputation of being aggressive, having a strong bite and being wickedly fast. 

However, Peggy Hoppe, the curator for primates and deserts, says that while deadly their black mamba is more curious.

"He mostly saw us everyday while we were getting this space ready for him, and so, now he's back to people all the time," Hoppe said. "So, he's very, very curious and really excited when lots of groups come up to see him."

The black mamba shares his enclosure with the green mamba and, Hoppe's favorite, the gaboon viper.

Also new to the exhibit is one of Asia's biggest snakes, the reticulated python. The python can grow up to 30 feet in length.

If you continue down the path you can see the Indiana natives the copperhead, cottonmouth and timber rattlesnake. 

If you run into one of these snakes in the wild, Hoppe says the best thing to do is to walk away.

"Most of the time they're reclusive," she said. "They're just going to be hiding somewhere." 

She says as long as you aren't poking around somewhere you probably won't encounter them. 

You can end your scaly adventure with the Burmese pythons. Hoppe says they will be continuing their python chats, meaning you could get a chance to touch one of the two snakes.

With these two very different exhibits opening up at the same time, the zoo is letting guests vote whether they are Team Snake or Team Sloth. Throughout the summer the zoo will use social media to update you on who's winning. 

(Photo: Madyson McGill)

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