Panama

Sloth Sanctuary

May 15, 2015
Running full speed

Sloths sleep for nearly 20 hours a day so if you get the chance to roll up on some not sleeping, consider yourself extremely lucky or simply blessed! After reading through the Bodhi Bible (a book of tourist information from the Bodhi Hostel) we saw a picture of a lady holding a sloth under the title SLOTH SANCTUARY. While most people might geek out on the opportunity to hug these lovely creatures, we came into El Valle de Anton thinking about birding (that’s was our first thoughts), not sloths. Sloths were a very pleasant surprise. You can’t just knock on the Casa Mariposa door and ask to see the sloths. We we’re fortunate as I remembered to ask the reception to see if the lazy beasts were awake. 45 seconds later I was informed by staff that the sloths were up and about. Perfect timing Allan encouraged us to get up and go, pointing out a structure a couple hundred meters down the road from the hostel and with a bounce, we were on our way with huge smiles and lots of excitement. We we’re welcomed by Ursula and her black Labrador.

Upon entering these two were stretched out on the couch

Upon entering these two were stretched out on the couch

When we walked in the first thing we saw were two three-toed sloths sprawled out on a comfy red couch! Putting her fingers out the sloths did a pull-up and came up to Mama Ursula for a hug. We went out and discussed the stories of how these cutie-pies ended up there. Being mother’s day we were sad to hear that Mama Sloth had died. Fortunately Ursula and her husband took them in knowing that they could be “stuck” with these guys for the next 40 years (their approximate life expectancy rate). The garden we walked through had trees and a jungle gym structure set up for them to play around during the few hours they were awake. While sloths roam around in the wild on their own, Sammie and Dahabie were always together. You could even sense some jealousy when Mama had one and not the other. Seeing a sloth sprint is the most comical thing! They look like spiders with long dangling arms and huge nails. They have these beautiful faces that are constantly smiling and are happy to take leaves from you and eat them. Feed with caution as these plant eaters can’t eat just any type of vegetation.

Running full speed

Running full speed

Hanging on the rope

Hanging on the rope

Sharkie the baby two toed sloth

Sharkie the baby two toed sloth

After sometime in the garden we went back into the room and Ursula brought out a bag of hibiscus flowers. Their diet helps explain a lot about their sleeping patterns. The flowers contain a substance that makes the sloths sleepy. Because they don’t drink much and have such a light diet they only poo about once a week. The garden was super clean and our host explained that they dig a hole with their tail, take a poo, then bury it all on their own. Incredible!

If you’re an animal lover you and have never seen a sloth you are in for a treat. El Valle de Anton is a perfect place to see them. Being in a town in the middle of a crater that blew up years ago you can see an abundance of birds including toucans, hummingbirds, and various flycatchers. If you’re more of an amphibian fan this is one of the only places in the world to see the critically endangered golden frog, a type of poison dart frog. There’s a zoo, but with many animals outside the cages I’m not sure why anyone would visit. When hiking watch out for snakes as they are seen frequently. But if you come just for the sloths know that they are seen around the area in trees but look carefully as they move slow and blend into their environments really well.
Sloth count viewing by country
United States- 0
Philippines- 0
Costa Rica-0
Panama- 4

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