61 Things I Learned At The World's Most Important Sloth Sanctuary

Basically one of the coolest places in the world.

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1. The Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica is the most important sloth sanctuary in the world, and it is pretty damn hard to get to.

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Located four hours from the nearest airport, you have to drive through a jungle on a crazy two-lane road to get there. As someone who doesn't drive much, let alone in a different country, it was a legit challenge. There was almost, for real, a mudslide! It was scary, but totally worth it because sloths.

3. Right when you get into the sanctuary, there's a huge statue of an actual life-size prehistoric sloth.

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This is what sloths used to look like. They were monsters, but not really. They were probably pretty gentle and humans killed them off because we are assholes.

4. The sloth sanctuary has the best room names ever because they're named after sloths and any room named after a sloth is a pretty cool room, especially if the sloth's name is Johnny Depp.

5. Anyway, the first thing you learn at the sanctuary is that scientists know basically nothing about sloths. Sloths have never really been studied until very very recently. I'm talking the last 10 years recently.

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One of the missions of the sloth sanctuary is to bring the sloths out of the millions of years of darkness they've been in. It's all so dark and cryptic.

6. This woman, Judy, runs the sanctuary along with her family. She is basically the most important sloth person in the world. She has done more for sloths than anyone else. She is a legend.

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Over the past 20 years, Judy has been taking sloths into her sanctuary. She has never rejected a sloth. The sanctuary is completely independently funded through donations and tours.

7. This is Becky. Becky is a Ph.D. student and biologist. She is basically the most important sloth scientist in the world.

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Becky has been living at the sanctuary for the past four years, and her job is literally to study sloths all day. In the past four years, she's made more discoveries about sloths than the entire scientific community ever has. Like Judy, she's also a badass. Becky spends her days alone in the jungle tracking sloths and putting little backpacks on them. More on that later.

NOW ON TO THE SLOTHS THEMSELVES...

10. All baby sloths brought to the sanctuary have to exercise every day on a jungle gym. In order to teach the smallest babies to climb, their "trainer" starts with really small motions. It's like sloth personal training.

12. So yeah, all baby sloths have to exercise and they are FAST.

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Sloth babies are especially ~frisky~. They MOVE. Don't be fooled. If you look away, the sloth could be on the ground or in your hair or crawling up your arm. Not gonna lie, it's pretty cool.

13. Sloths in the wild are solitary animals. In captivity, they tend to stick together.

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Sloths are never chilling with other sloths in the wild, but for some reason in the sanctuary, they stick together.

14. And sometimes they fight.

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And by fight, I mean sloth fighting. This basically means they open their mouths and try to bite each other. Even this was kind of tame.

19. Sloths absolutely love hibiscus plants. It's their favorite treat.

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Sloths love these flowers, which grow naturally all over Costa Rica. The beauty is truly overpowering and REAL.

20. Sloths love to lick human hands.

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For unknown reasons. Best guess is because they like the salt on our hands. Sloth tongues are pretty cool too. It's not freaky like a cat tongue, it's more like a normal, human tongue. It's chill.

22. There are lots of one-eyed pirate sloths.

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Eye injuries are a common injury the sanctuary sees when new sloths are brought in. When people are cutting down or trimming trees, they can't really see the sloths because they camouflage so well.

23. Up until fairly recently, people in Costa Rica thought of sloths as vermin and pests.

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As the popularity in sloths has risen, they've realized how important the animals are. Pretty cool.

24. The sloth nursery is the most special of special places.

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The nursery is where all the little baby sloths live. Baby sloths, as you may know, are perfect.

28. There are two species of sloths: The two-toed and the three-toed. The two species of sloths are separated at the sanctuary, except when they are babies.

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Like, you wouldn't see the two- and three-toed sloths together as adults. When they're babies, you'll find them separated in their buckets by a blanket.

30. This is what a full-time sloth vet looks like.

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She works at the sanctuary. Another cool thing about sloths is that they transport the babies on stuffed animals.

32. This is what a sloth with a tiny backpack looks like.

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Becky (the scientist from above) runs the sloth backpack project. She puts a little backpack on wild sloths and then releases them back into the wild. The backpack collects data letting her know where the sloths have been. Sloths are nearly impossible to track on their own because they blend into everything so well.

33. The secret hardest part of releasing a sloth back into the wild is that they will GRAB ONTO EVERYTHING.

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When this sloth named Burrito was being released back into the wild he would just grab for anything. He got caught on a bridge and trees and bushes and everything.

34. We know very, very, very, little about the two-toed sloths. Basically nothing.

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Like I said before, scientists haven't ever really studied sloths. The sloths they study at the sanctuary, so far, have only been the three-toed. That's because they're easier to wrangle and get the little backpack on.

35. All baby sloths at the sanctuary are paired with a stuffed animal.

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The most amazing part of all of this is that the sloths become attached to their stuffed animal. It's kind of sad but also pretty damn cool.

37. Sloths are sometimes named after the stuffed animals they become most attached to. Like this guy's name is Kermit because he won't leave his Kermit stuffed animal.

38. One of the most commonly surreal sights at the sanctuary are literal buckets of baby sloths.

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You read that correctly, BUCKETS of baby sloths. The baby sloths are transported in the buckets when they are being fed or brought out for exercise.

42. Most sloths at that sanctuary live in these incubators from World War II.

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They don't even work properly, they're just the best containers they have for them.

56. Sloths are really, really strong.

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This sloth, named Jemima, was easily supported on one finger. Sloths have to be strong enough to climb around in trees all day. They're ripped.