Sloth dies following emergency surgery at Dickerson Park Zoo

Sloth dies following emergency surgery at Dickerson Park Zoo

A sloth has died following an emergency surgery earlier this week at Dickerson Park Zoo.

Trixie, a five-year-old Linne's two-toed sloth, died May 16, said zoo spokeswoman Joey Powell.

Trixie, along with Janis, were the two sloths who joined Dickerson Park Zoo in May 2018. They had been off exhibit due to the cold weather of winter. Janis was recently moved to her exhibit while staff prepared to move Trixie.

“Sloths are a little faster with quite the arm span more than people realize, so Trixie wasn’t quite ready to go yet,” Powell said.

Trixie,a five year old Linne's two-toed sloth at Dickerson Park Zoo, passed away following emergency surgery May 16,2021.

Keepers had just moved Trixie when they noticed something was off.

“I’m not sure how you notice how a sloth’s activity level is decreased, but that’s how good (the zookeepers) are,” Powell said. “She wasn’t interested in food.” 

Trixie was put under anesthesia for an exam and that’s when animal care staff found issues: an obstruction and bladder stone. The mammal was anesthetized for roughly five hours with the surgery lasting three hours.

“She had a rough time through the surgery,” Powell said.

Although Trixie was stable following the surgery, she died that night.

“When you work with animals, it’s part of it, but it’s not easy,” Powell said.

Unlike when Makali the siamang lost her mate in 2018, there isn’t a push to find another sloth to join Janis at this time because sloths are solitary creatures.

“There are certain animals that when a mate is lost, it really is a mate and there’s a mourning process,” Powell said. “The keepers will obviously keep an eye on (Janis) and watch because she’s an animal and she’s obviously going to be aware that something has changed, but as far as comparing her to a siamang, they’re entirely different species and personalities.”

Sloths can live between 20 to 30 years and have a slow metabolism.

Powell, again, applauded the animal care team.

“This shows the care and concern our animal care staff the diligence and effort they put in,” Powell shared. “They were so in tune to a slight difference — we’re talking about recognizing that a sloth’s activity level was decreased — and such simple nuances that they pick up on in dealing with any animal.”

Powell said Trixie may have been in pain, but because of the action the care team took, she did not suffer long.

“That’s always a bright spot in a rough day,” Powell said. “It’s rough on them. This is the not fun part of the job.”

If you would like to send a card or well wishes to the animal care team, you may address them to “Animal Care Staff” or “Zookeepers” and mail them to 3043 N. Fort Ave. Springfield, MO 65803.

“I think anytime people realize (zookeepers) do so much more than pick up poop and feed animals, that there is a science and a deep compassion, that is always appreciated,” Powell said.

Sara Karnes is an Outdoors Reporter with the Springfield News-Leader. Follow along with her adventures on Twitter and Instagram @Sara_Karnes. Got a story to tell? Email her at

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