Oldest living sloth in captivity
Who
Jan
What
50:225 year(s), day(s)
Where
Deutschland (Krefeld)
When

A male Linne’s two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus) named Jan – a resident at Krefeld Zoo in Germany since 30 April 1986 – is at least 50 years 225 days old as of 12 December 2020. Although born in the wild in South America, Jan was estimated to have been aged around six months when found on 1 May 1970, which means he is likely to be closer to 51 years of age. The zoo has nominated 30 April as his birthday.


In the wild, the typical lifespan for two-toed sloths is around 20 years old; in captivity, that increases by around 10-20 years.

Jan was initially purchased by Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, where he arrived on 9 December 1970 and lived there for just over 15 years, before being transferred to Krefeld Zoo in 1986 where he has resided ever since.

Incredibly, Jan shares his enclosure in the rainforest hall at Krefeld Zoo with another superlatively aged sloth called Lulu – a Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth (C. hoffmanni) – who is believed to be the oldest living female sloth currently in captivity. Having arrived at Krefeld Zoo on 15 April 1974 from Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois, USA, Lulu is estimated to have been born in 1973, which would make her 47 years old in 2020.

Despite his impressive age, Jan is still playing his part in the zoo’s sloth breeding programme. In 2019, he became a father for the 18th time.

The previous oldest sloth in captivity was put to sleep on 6 August 2020 after a short period of illness. Paula, who was also a Linne’s two-toed sloth, resided at Halle Zoo in Germany from 25 September 1971 and was at least two years of age when she arrived. She was assessed to be 51 years 53 days old when she died.