Uproar Over Aquarium’s Sloth Capture May Lead to Species’ ‘Endangered’ Status

PETA Files Comments in Support of Authorities' Proposal to Protect Pygmy Three-Toed Sloths Under Endangered Species Act

For Immediate Release:
September 9, 2014

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Dallas – The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the pygmy three-toed sloth—of whom fewer than 100 are believed to exist today—as critically endangered, but they still aren’t currently protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). So—nearly a year to the day after the Dallas World Aquarium (DWA) attempted to export some of these sloths from their natural habitat on an island off the coast of Panama and confine them—PETA has filed official comments in support of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) proposal to list the animals as endangered under the ESA.

“Without the protections of the Endangered Species Act, the pygmy three-toed sloth may continue to be the target of unscrupulous animal collectors such as the Dallas World Aquarium, which will only hasten the species’ extinction,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on authorities to make sure that the world’s smallest sloths—only dozens of whom are left in existence—receive the protection that they desperately need.”

Those who protested the DWA’s sloth capture halted the export by pointing out that the DWA planned to remove nearly 10 percent of the entire remaining population of these animals. The international community of sloth experts further criticized the DWA’s plan: Sloths suffer from high mortality rates in captivity, and the pygmy three-toed sloth’s full diet isn’t even known. After the incident, the species was added to Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora because it was determined that their exclusion from the list had been an oversight. Following a listing petition submitted by the Animal Welfare Institute, the FWS solicited comments and will next conduct a 12-month review to determine whether an endangered status is warranted.

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