Sloths are saturated with cuteness, so what could be more adorable than an orphanage full of baby sloths? At the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica abandoned sloth babies find a home where they can be nurtured, cared for, and hopefully released back into the wild.
The Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica began in 1992 when a little girl presented a baby sloth to a hotel owner as a pet. Over the next few years, more baby sloths were delivered, and soon the hotel owner developed a reputation for caring for sloth orphans. The Sloth Sanctuary is currently staffed by 14 full-time employees. Most sloths living at the Sanctuary will live there for life. Sloths cannot be reintroduced into the wild if they were orphaned too young because they never had the opportunity to develop necessary survival skills for life in a natural setting. Other sloths, even with therapy and medical attention, are too badly injured to live safely in the wild. The Sloth Sanctuary has, however, released dozens of adult sloths back into the forest successfully.
Sloths are orphaned when mother sloths are killed – whether by habitat loss or hunting. Humans contribute greatly to this destruction – building power lines that electrocute sloths, and driving cars that turn them into roadkill. There have even been cases of people attacking sloths for fun. The Sloth Sanctuary fights to conserve sloth environments.
The Sloth Sanctuary seeks to promote sloth awareness. Sloths historically have been accused of being lazy and lethargic – taking their name from one of the seven deadly sins. Sloths may be slow, but they are strategically slow.
Their gradual movements prevent the sloth from drawing too much attention from predators. Eagles, snakes and jaguars often mistake slow-moving sloths for a nest, or a piece of wood.
Sloths have very low body temperatures and metabolic rates, and can expend little energy because their diet of leaves is nutrient-poor. Recently, researchers have learned that sloths only sleep 10 hours a day, six hours less than the previously quoted rate.