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Meet a Baby Sloth (and more) at New ‘Survival of the Slowest’ Exhibit at Academy of Natural Sciences

Meet live animals, including a two-toed sloth (!) and learn how they've survived!

Opening Saturday, February 15, at the Academy of Natural Sciences, “Survival of the Slowest” explores the adaptations that animals have evolved to survive and thrive over millions of years, despite being…well, really slow. No, they can’t outrun any predators, but the dozen species featured in the exhibit have developed survival strategies over time to help them outsmart them! The exhibit will not just explain these adaptations, but also provides visitors many live animal encounters.



Animal keepers will be stationed in the exhibit to answer visitor questions, feed the animals their healthy meals, and sometimes to remove an animal from its enclosure so visitors can have an even closer look! And while we are super-excited about meeting Lulu the two-toed baby sloth, you can also meet and touch many other animals including a tortoise, iguana, snake, hedgehog,  gecko, and more. All encounters depend on availability, time of day, and the animal’s temperament (you don’t want to be petting a grumpy sloth). We talked to an animal expert, who tipped us off that mornings are best for Lulu, when she eats her breakfast and it’s not too crowded at the museum yet!


Each animal is in its own little habitat, mimicking its natural setting. The animals all come from Little Ray’s Nature Centres, the largest exotic animal rescue organization in Canada (most of the animals in the exhibit are rescues, and none were taken from the wild). Through a series of bilingual infographics and interactive stations, you will learn all the strategies animals have developed– from camouflage to armor to nocturnal lifestyles, and much more. There’s even a little racetrack where you “race” against a big screen to try to be the slowest! If you need to relax, head over to the book nook and pick a story to read while snuggling against a massive plush sloth.



“As climate change and species extinction continue to alter our world, these amazing animals serve to reminds us of nature’s wonder and how much more we need to learn,” said Academy President and CEO Scott Cooper. “It’s more important than ever to connect people with nature and to inspire everyone to care for it.”


Throughout the course of the exhibit, the museum is planning special events (flashlight tour, anyone) to highlight these special animals, but every day will be unique due to the constant opportunities to actually come face-to-face with so many animals! Additionally, the museum is planning sloth-themed birthday party packages, and well as Museum Overnights that include exclusive access to the exhibit.


“Survival of the Slowest” is at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, at 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, from February 15 through September 20. The exhibit is open from 10 am – 4:30 pm during the week and 10 am – 5 pm on the weekends. Admission is $5 above general admission for non-members, $3 for individual and family members, and free for Family Plus members and above.


Photographs by Laura Swartz.


Contributing Writer