Sustainable Sloth Tourism

Responsible Sloth Tourism

Sloths, unlike many animals, do not show obvious external signs of stress. Their natural response to fear or danger is to hold still, and as a result, it is difficult to tell when a sloth is scared or stressed.

The animal may look perfectly happy to us – but the reality will probably be very different. This causes a lot of problems for sloths in urban areas as people often don’t understand the stress that they are causing for the animal.

Tourists frequently encounter sloths that are low down or crawling across the ground between trees, and in excitement (or perhaps in an attempt to get the perfect selfie) they often crowd the animal, make a lot of noise and even reach out to touch the fur.

Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth 
Bradypus variegatus
Caretaker, Santiago Chaggo, holding injured sloth that fell from tree
Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica
sloth tourism

70% of sloth photos on Instagram show people hugging, holding, or using sloths as accessories.

Photo: World Animal Protection

In high tourist areas, sloths are also commonly exhibited by the side of the road, with unsuspecting tourists being charged to take a photo with the animal.

In reality, these sloths have been pulled from the trees, often the mother will be killed, and the baby used as a photo prop until it dies (or someone pays to rescue it). The sloth is then replaced in a vicious money-making cycle.

Incredible and ethical experiences of getting close to wildlife are possible. The way we travel matters: Become a Responsible traveler!

We establish permanent signage in high tourist areas to promote responsible “sloth tourism”, and to educate people on what they should do if they see a sloth being offered for holding or photo opportunities (call the authorities or a local rescue center).

We also work with local hotels, businesses, and restaurants, particularly those with sloths frequenting their property, and provide information leaflets to help educate guests about the problems that sloths are facing.

tourism selfies

On an international level, we raise awareness of the harsh reality behind the sloth pet trade. All of us together can make the difference to end sloth cruelty!

Sloths that are sold as pets usually come from the wild. Even if the baby sloth was born in captivity, it is more than likely that the parents would have been taken from the wild several years earlier.

The sloths currently being held in captivity cannot physically produce enough babies to meet the ever-increasing demand from people wanting pet sloths.

With social media campaigns, blogs, and our international school education materials we highlight the abusive nature of the sloth pet trade and to hopefully change the mindset of future generations.