The National Aviary
October 30 & 31
11 a.m. — 3 p.m.

Fresh on the heels of International Sloth Day—yes, there’s such a thing on October 20th—the National Aviary is throwing a birthday bash for one of its most amazing and adorable residents.

Valentino the Linnaeus two-toed sloth is turning one and you’re invited to celebrate! Wish a very happy birthday to Pittsburgh’s most famous sloth as you explore these fascinating slow-moving, tree-dwelling and leaf-eating mammals.

Attendees will have the rare opportunity to see Valentino up-close and learn about his first year at the National Aviary. Join all of the sloth-themed festivities as you make a personalized card for Valentino, don a party hat and enjoy yummy cupcakes. Valentino will be presented with his birthday “smash cake,” during a special appearance and feeding.

Valentino at his first press conference. Courtesy the National Aviary.

Sloth lovers will also enjoy a reading of Eric Carle’s classic children’s book, Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, Said the Sloth, and will see a fun slide show featuring photos documenting Valentino’s growth throughout the year. The Aviary’s exhibit birds will also receive “birthday presents and cakes” that they will open throughout the event.

Born on October 31, 2015 to a breeder in Fort Lauderdale, Valentino arrived at the Aviary as a two-pound baby. He now weighs seven pounds and is expected to grow to be up to 20 pounds. Valentino loves eating apples, sweet potatoes, leaf-eater biscuits, and a variety of fruits, veggies and leafy greens. One thing he doesn’t care for? Kale.

Visitors will see that Valentino’s fur has changed drastically since his arrival, going from short and dark brown to long and light brown-blonde. He is being hand-raised to be acclimated to people as an animal ambassador for the rainforest species and native ecosystems of Central and South America.

Valentino at nine months. Courtesy the National Aviary.

Did you know . . . that sloths spend most of their lives upside down? That means they eat, sleep, travel and give birth upside down. Sloth hair even grows upside down! Though they’re named for the cardinal sin of sloth—because they seem slow and lazy—their idleness is actually due to a metabolic adaptation that conserves energy. Their large four-chambered stomachs allow plant material to ferment and increase the absorption of nutrients. This means that it can take a sloth almost one month to digest a single meal.

Closely related to anteaters and armadillos, sloths live about 10 to 15 years in the wild and about 30 years in zoos. The extremely slow-moving animals have long curved claws that help them hang from trees branches, where they spend most of their time eating leaves.

Open to the public of all ages, Valentino’s birthday event is included with regular admission.

Looking for more events? Check out our 12 Pittsburgh events not to miss in October, Everything you need to know about Pittsburgh concerts in October and 12 great family adventures in Pittsburgh this October feature stories.

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...