Monday, March 13, 2017

Sloth Sanctuary

I knew little about sloths except that "sloth" is one of the deadly sins along with pride, envy, wrath, avarice, gluttony, lust. A visit to The Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica changed all of that. The tour began with a boat ride through the jungle where we saw sloths hanging onto sky-high tree branches. Sloth watching is infinitely easier than bird watching. Birds flit; sloths just sit...and sit and sit. Once you spot one it's easier to keep it in view than a bird except that they are up so high it's hard to see details without good binoculars.

They have no fat on their bodies for warmth and so are covered with thick fur even though in the tropics. Algae grow on their fur which helps with camouflage and protection from predatory birds. Their only protection against predators is their long claws which are used mostly for hanging on,but they can use them for defense.The sloth descends from on-high once a week to defecate and urinate in the same spot —they move unbelievably slowly. I watched one reach for a cage wire. It took more than a full minute to move a hand over a foot of distance.  They eat the leaves of one particular tree (reminiscent of the Koala who eats only eucalyptus). They do not drink water...cannot as when they drink on the ground, they are vulnerable and slow. They move at a snail's pace except when they mate. Mating takes 45 seconds and is 100% effective. The gestation period is 11 months. I thought they looked eerily human.

We went on this tour with a personable young Chinese man who lived in Vancouver. He was a trained chef and had lived in Paris, then taught school for a few years and he is currently a mortician. He said he liked to know how to "do" things and so he's changed professions every five years and intends to continue doing so. 

Floating along looking for sloths with a Chinese mortician. We don't do this often. 

These succulents hung out of their container. They reminded me of the sloths.

They sleep in hammocks in the sanctuary. You can read more about the creatures and the sanctuary

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