VISITORS  to a Sussex zoo can come face-to-face with two-toed sloths in a experience for this year.

Drusillas Park in Alfriston has added the personal encounters with its slowest and most popular residents after the success of its Close Encounter animal experiences with other creatures including lemurs, meerkats, coatis, penguins, snakes and tarantulas.

Zoo manager Sue Woodgate says, “As these wonderful little guys are so popular at the zoo, we thought now would be a good time to bring in something special for all the sloth fans out there.

“The encounter will take place in our walk-through bat enclosure, so not only will visitors get a chance to feed the sloths, they will also have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the bats and the golden lion tamarins that also live in this large enclosure. It really will be a very special and unforgettable experience.”

The 10-acre family-run zoo has Linne’s two-toed sloths, which are covered in thick grey-brown fur. In the wild, they live in tropical rainforests in northern South America and spend almost all their time hanging upside down from trees by their four long limbs. They have two toes on their front feet and three on their back feet, and all four feet have long hook-like claws.

Hundreds of people have already taken to social media to express their excitement at the announcement by Drusillas.

Cassie Poland, head of marketing at Drusillas, says, “We have been bowled over by the positive public response to our launch of the sloth encounters. We put a small post on our Facebook to introduce the encounter and it just went nuts! Within a few hours, our post had been shared nearly 130 times. Our total number of post views keeps increasing but we have already had more than 60,000 views.

“There’s been a real buzz.”

As well as sloths, the zoo has many small exotic creatures, including macaques, tamarins, saki monkeys, racoons, marmosets, capybaras, beavers, gibbons, armadillos, penguins prairie dogs, iguanas, porcupines, wallabies, bats, pythons, alpacas and kune kune pigs.

Sloth Encounters, which last between 30 and 40 minutes and are open to anyone aged six years and over, are bookable from the beginning of 2018. Phone 01323 874100 or visit drusillas.co.uk.

Above: a child has a close encounter with a sloth at Drusillas

Main picture, top: Gordon the sloth has a snack

Below: Gordon takes a nap

Bottom: Flash the sloth feeds herself