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Local sloth makes a splash on Anderson Cooper's new TV show

A baby two-toed sloth born at a Dunedin pet store doesn't have a name yet, but he or she is a star.

The 7-month-old sloth from Pet Safari was featured on CNN anchor Anderson Cooper's new daytime talk show Oct. 7.

Cooper apparently loves sloths, so his show's producers surprised him by flying the sloth and its owner, Larry Lipke, to New York to appear on the episode titled "Pet Extravaganza."

Cooper's reaction when he saw the sloth: "Oh, wow. Whoa … Oh, my God. This is incredible."

Seconds after Lipke handed Cooper the sloth, it opened its tiny mouth, let out a cry and nestled its head onto Cooper's left shoulder.

During the three-minute segment, Lipke told Cooper what great pets his sloths are. He has three others, and all of them know his voice and scent and are litter box trained, he said.

Lipke said he chatted with Cooper after the segment. And he found Cooper's personality much like it seems on the show, which airs at 9 a.m. Monday through Friday on ABC.

"He stood and talked with me for 20 to 30 minutes," Lipke said. "He was incredibly personable."

The sloth was born March 6 in a habitat at Lipke's store, Pet Safari, on Main Street. He's still not sure if the baby is male or female, as the animals lack clearly defined genitalia, he said.

A sloth named Surprise was born at Lipke's shop in 2009, and he sold the animal to a New Port Richey family when it was about a year old. Its mom no longer wanted anything to do with it, Lipke said.

"She chased the baby all over the cage," Lipke said. "She would not let it eat anything."

For now, Lipke calls the 7-month-old sloth "Baby's baby" because the sloth's mother's name is Baby. The father is named Scarface because he has a scar on his lower lip. Lipke also has a sloth named Blondie. He bought the animals in 2006 and 2007 after their native rainforest habitat in South America had been destroyed, he said.

The animals are part of a program at Pet Safari that teaches kids and adults about the environment and the impact of deforestation.

Thanks to Cooper, the sloth won't be nameless for long. His show is holding a contest to name Baby's baby. So far, fans' copious suggestions include Molasses, Lucky and Cooper.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4155.

Name that sloth

Want to name the baby? Visit Anderson Cooper's website at tinyurl.com/4xyoq9n.

Local sloth makes a splash on Anderson Cooper's new TV show 10/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 14, 2011 12:32pm]
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