Photo courtesy of Texas State Aquarium
Corpus Christi animal lovers continue to mourn the death of a beloved two-toed sloth who was an incredibly popular attraction at the Texas State Aquarium.
Jesse Gilbert, Chief Operating Officer at the Texas State Aquarium, said “The outpouring of support from the public has been tremendous. When we experience a loss like this, particularly for the animal caretakers, it’s pretty tough. That really does mean the world to them. I think we understand the impact that Xena had on again, countless, thousands and thousands of lives. It’s a big loss, and we miss her.”
Xena the Sloth passed away on Halloween due to chronic health conditions that worsened in recent months, Texas State Aquarium explained in a recent Facebook post. According to the Caller Times, she was taken to Houston to be seen by a veterinary specialist. However, they weren’t able to identify what was causing her health problems.
Xena was a two-toed sloth brought to the aquarium in 2015 as part of their Caribbean Journey expansion, which opened in May of 2017. “She was the first animal that came in preparation for that,” said Gilbert.
While reminiscing about her time at the Texas State Aquarium, Gilbert mentioned Xena participated in many education programs for elementary schools.
“She was great at it. She would allow people to pet her, and she would eat from their hands. From a sloth standpoint, she was a great animal, and I think the biggest piece is that as you get an animal like that, that’s really charismatic, the staff and volunteers that work — even our guests and members — become attached to them. That’s part of the tragic side of a loss is the connection that Xena’s made with staff, volunteers, and guests at the aquarium,” Gilbert said.
Although Xena had a love match named Chico, who passed away in January 2021, they did not interact much.
“Sloths are pretty solitary. In the wild, they come together to breed and that’s about the extent of it. They saw each other; they knew each other were there. Chico was fairly young, so never really mated or anything like that. Their interactions were actually fairly sparse just because in nature, that’s just what they do. The only time you really see multiple sloths is when you see a mom and a juvenile. That’s when you’ll see more than one, but it’s pretty rare to see two adults together,” Gilbert explained.
The addition of Xena helped bring record attendance to the aquarium upon her arrival.