What better animal than a sloth to represent Costa Ricans? Well, Costa Rica’s sloth sanctuary is one of few shelters in the world focusing on the safeguarding and examination of this famously inactive and unsociable creature.
After being hit by cars, electrocuted by high-voltage wires as they scramble up trees, or orphaned because irrational locals have murdered their parents, these sloths often reach the shelter in a shocking state
Costa Rica’s sloth sanctuary changes all that for them, where they get treated like royalty.
The youngest even have stuffed animals to cuddle in their expensive incubators. 130 hectares (300 acres) of lush tropical forest with a crystal-clear river flowing through it in Penshurt, 215 kilometres (130 miles) from the capital San Jose near Costa Rica’s east coast is where the shelter is based and the sloths could not ask for a nicer or safer home where there are no cars to run them down nor any electric pylons.
The Costa Rica Sloth Sanctuary was founded in 1992 by a Costa Rican named Luis Arroyo and his U.S. wife, Judy Avey. The idea was to protect, nurse and study the animals, but also to teach people about them. Locals call them ‘osos perezosos’, or lazy bears, and some even associate them with witchcraft. They are an enigma of sorts. Why don’t they move, run or jump, like other self-respecting mammals do? (You could ask the same of many of the natives of central and South America!!)
The refuge gets two kinds of sloth, two-toed and three-toed, both of which inhabit Costa Rica.
Since its founding, the centre has cared for more than 500 of the animals. It costs about US$400 per sloth per year. The sanctuary raises income with a zoo, a hotel and guided tours.
In Costa Rica sloths tend to inhabit the Caribbean coast to the east because of the dampness and plentiful presence of the guarumo, or trumpet tree, which is the animal’s favourite.
Sloths have fans all round the world. If you are interested in seeing these sloths you can first visit the sloth sanctuary website at http://www.slothsanctuary.com/welcome/ and then why not come visit Costa Rica and see the very same sloths up close and personal? Alternatively, there are some men in vests who smell of beer who are not dissimilar to sloths who you can see on virtually every street corner in San Jose!