Did you feel a little lazy during the Covid pandemic, spent a lot of time alone and lazing on your couch? Much like staying home protects you during a pandemic, the lazy loneliness of the sloths is a survival skill and an evolutionary advantage. So why not spend this year’s International Sloth Day, October 20, celebrating the wise sloth and planning a trip to Costa Rica see sloths for yourself (responsibly, of course)?
The slow, sure, lonely and sedentary sloth
According to World Wildlife Fund, the average sloth sleeps about 15 hours a day and, when moving, only walks about 41 meters each day at a very slow speed. Although it may seem lazy, The conversation explains how it is an evolutionary advantage that allowed the sloth to survive for 64 million years.
Moving slowly makes it difficult for predators like jaguars and eagles to spot sloths. Sloths also maintain a lower body temperature than most mammals and need much less food, meaning they can safely spend more time at “home” rather than picking up dinner there. where the danger lurks. Lucky sloths lead a life of leisure, which is one of the reasons Costa Rica adopted the animal as a national symbol.
Pura Vida Costa Rica
Costa Ricans, known as Ticos, generally have a “pura vida” approach to life. Translated as “pure life” or “simple life”, it is about living as stress free and happy as possible. When you visit the Central American country, you will hear “pura vida” used as “how are you?” “,” I’m fine, thank you “,” have a good time “,” see you soon “,” see you later “and more.
In the summer of 2021, lawmakers unanimously declared the two-toed and three-toed sloths as Costa Rica’s national symbols. Although it started out as a joke, Jorge Carballo brought the idea to MP Yorleny León Marchena and it quickly became official. By explaining how they contributed to the initiative, the Sloth Conservation Foundation describes how León Marchena said that, like lazy people, Costa Ricans “are known for their peaceful demeanor, slow pace of life and low stress.”
Costa Rica, already one of the most sustainable countries in the world and where more than a quarter of the territory is protected, is home to 5% of terrestrial biodiversity and two types of sloths. The new declaration also introduced additional protections for sloths and their habitats, improved scientific research, and will create safer air passages for sloths over roads where sloths are most at risk.
Where to see responsible sloths in Costa Rica
If you are traveling with a guide in Costa Rica, the tourist office has a list of certified guides – they will likely indicate sloths hiding in trees in the country’s rainforests.
If you look closely, you might also spot them on your own, such as ziplining or walking on suspension bridges through the canopy of trees. Sloths are found all over Costa Rica and you have a particularly good chance of seeing them in Arenal Volcano National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park and Tortuguero National Park.
You can also visit one of Costa Rica’s wildlife rescue centers to get a closer look at the sloths. In these rescue centers, some animals are rehabilitated before returning to their natural environment after injury or illness, while others can no longer live without human care.
Not far from San José Airport, for example, is the Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center. Other centers include Children save the rainforest, Las Pumas Wildlife Sanctuary and Natuwa Wildlife Sanctuary. Rescue centers accept donations and many also offer volunteer opportunities. A great gift idea is to adopt a sloth, where you support sloth rehabilitation and receive an adoption certificate, animal photo, and progress updates on “your” sloth.
Remember that in Costa Rica, it is illegal to touch, pet, or hold any wild animal, including sloths. In 2019, Costa Rica launched the #StopAnimalSelfies campaign to stop harmful contact with wildlife. It is good practice wherever you travel.
The current requirements to enter Costa Rica are described on VisitCostaRica.com.