Nairobi, Kenya — An orphanage in Kenya’s northern city of Nairode is raising orphaned sloths for their own care, and the sloths are not the only ones.
The orphanage says the sloth population has ballooned from fewer than 10,000 to more than 30,000.
As of early November, more than 5,000 of the orphaned and neglected sloths have been rescued from a local landfill, which has since been turned into a sloth sanctuary.
“They’re the only mammals in Africa that live like that,” said Yvette L. Oso, a zoologist and zookeeper at the orphanage.
She told ABC News that the slooths are very smart, and they can’t climb trees easily.
For now, they are kept in a small cage and they have been taught to sit in their holes and do their business in their own habitat.
Nairobi’s National Institute of Health, which is overseeing the project, estimates that about 50 sloths live in the orphanages.
It is a small population, but they are helping to make an important contribution to the slums in Kenya, said Oso.
Oso said the orphanaged sloths will soon be brought back to the Nairodi zoo.
Kweli Yip, the zoo’s head keeper, said the slum residents are excited to see the animals.
“It’s an amazing thing to see them for the first time,” she said.
There are currently two orphanages in Nairoda, with about 8,000 sloths in total, according to Oso’s research.
In recent years, some local residents have expressed concerns about the slavers and their use of animals for their profit.
One of the biggest concerns about wildlife trafficking is that people are forced to purchase their animals in a desperate bid to survive.
However, Oso said many of the slavish sloths would probably not be used in any way, even if they were taken away for breeding.
“They would have a lot of time to learn to live independently,” she told ABCNews.com.
Sloths are a protected species in Africa, and there are no laws in place to prevent people from owning or keeping them.
ABC News’ Jonathan Givony contributed to this report.