Celebrating International Sloth Day!

Celebrating International Sloth Day!

Taking a lazy day to stay in your PJs seems like a fitting way to celebrate the world’s slowest moving mammal. However, International Sloth Day (October 20th) is more than an excuse to take it easy,  it is a day to recognize an important member of tropical ecosystems.

three-fingered three-toed sloth hanging smiling

Why celebrate sloths?

Sloths play an important role in tropical forest ecosystems. Scientists estimate in a healthy tropical forest, sloths should make up a significant percentage of all the mammals living in the forest (in terms of biomass). In other words, sloths are meant to be common.

Like the herbivores of the savannah, sloths are the grazers of tropical ecosystems, playing an important role in the cycling of resources throughout the forest. Having successfully survived on Planet Earth for almost 64 million years they form an important part of the food chain for ocelots, jaguars and harpy eagles.

three-fingered three-toed sloth eating leaves
Pale-throated sloth (Bradypus tridactylus) eats a cecropia leaf, a type of tree that forms a significant part of the sloth’s diet/Photo: Suzi Eszterhas

Protecting sloths and the habitat in which they live ultimately benefits a whole host of other species, from poison dart frogs to Great Green Macaws. Not all species, such as velvet worms, receive the same kind of attention and love that sloths receive. Conserving sloths leads to the protection of these lesser known species and the preservation of the beautifully complex ecosystems they are a part of.

Sloths remind us to slow down

In addition to keeping our forests healthy, sloths inspire us to slow down. They are a valuable antidote to fast-paced digital world we live in. Like the classic story of the tortoise versus the hare, sloths are living examples that there are many ways to be “successful” in this world.

Because of their laid-back lifestyle, they have become an emblem of the “pura vida” lifestyle in Costa Rica. They are also a symbol of the tourism industry in Costa Rica, since they embody the spirit of vacation.

sloths sleeping in trees two-fingered two-toed three-fingered three-toed
Sloths have earned the undeserved reputation of being the “laziest” animals in the animal kingdom. They sleep an average of only 8-10 hours a day – the same as humans!/Photos: Suzi Eszterhas

Sloths are in trouble

Sloths are perfectly designed for a quiet, solitary life in the canopy of the rainforest. However, their rainforest home becomes more fragmented and degraded with each passing day.

In the South Caribbean of Costa Rica (where we are based) we get daily notifications of sloths getting stranded in unlikely places, from busy roads to restaurants. It is clear indicator of the pressure we are putting on them and their forest homes.

three-fingered three-toed sloth crawling on ground
Crossing on the ground is a difficult and dangerous process for sloths./Photo: Suzi Eszterhas

Celebrating sloth day with Team Sloth

The good news is that you don’t have to get out of your PJ’s to celebrate sloth day. This year we will be offering a variety of virtual events that you can tune into from your sofa! From Slow Flow Sloth Yoga to a live Q&A session, we hope that sloths bring you some tranquility and inspiration during this trying year. Remember to take a breath, take a sloth nap, the world will look a bit better after some rest.

baby three-fingered three-toed sloth snuggling mother
Did you know that a group of sloths is called a “snuggle“?/Photo: Suzi Eszterhas

 

-Katra Laidlaw