Please Save a Sloth in Costa Rica!


By Pura Vida Guide news reporter: Jackie Rydstrom

You may have recently read our heart-warming article about Monster, the three-toed sloth who was successfully released back into the wild by the dedicated team at The Sloth Institute in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.  For those who missed it, Monster was miraculously rescued at a mere 2 weeks old and against all odds, survived and eventually after 3 years of careful nurturing, is now free and living back in the wild.

This amazing success story is sadly a rarity and much less common than any of us are given to believe by many sanctuaries purporting to hand-rear sloths, promising us all they´d be returned eventually back into their natural habitat

Did you know that sloths are solitary animals?

Caged Sloths

I myself, was ignorant of the facts and on my very first landing to Costa Rica, immediately made plans to visit a sloth sanctuary, full of excitement to actually witness them close-up and maybe even get to hold one of these extraordinary little critters.

I´d seen so many people on social media and in nature documentaries handling the sloths and thought little of it, until I read a few disturbing articles contradicting this practice.  So keeping an open mind, I decided to investigate on behalf of Pura Vida Guide, what this so-called Costa Rican tourist attraction was indeed all about, and “if” any harm was being done to the sloths for our own, (understandable) fascination of these remarkable creatures.

Many of you will have read the damning reports, from two veterinarians who once worked for the famous Sloth Sanctuary in Limón and not wishing to become political about individual establishments, it appears not all rescue centers are for the benefit of these adorable animals and rather more for the healthy profits, all thanks to the attraction of Costa Rica´s visiting tourists.

Hidden away from the tourists: a sloth covered with pressure sores, all due to inappropriate housing by a “sanctuary”.

poorly sloth

Fortunately, I came across The Sloth Institute and in particular read the co-founder, Sam Trull´s Soth Diaries, explaining in depth the delicate nature of these precious Costa Rican inhabitants.  And equally, much to her credit, became educated before I was yet another person unknowingly adding to the torment of these beloved wild animals by my desire to go and see them at close range.

I had no idea for example, that human contact stressed them to a point of unspeakable illness or how inadequately they were kept with inappropriate diets, ill-advised socializing and lack of veterinary care.

Nor did I realize that the undertaking of returning the sloths back into the wild was rarely part of the plan by these so-called “sanctuaries”, where so many of these poor creatures experienced a slow and agonizing death and all thanks to money and tourism.  Well, I hung my head in shame.

wild sloth

So no, I am not going to any “Rescue Center”, “Sloth Sanctuary” or whatever title that entices us (as true animal lovers), into believing our entrance fee is going to do some good for the health and well-being of sloths.  And no, I have no intention now or in the future to go anywhere near to a sloth and cause undue stress, just for my enjoyment.

Most sanctuaries or rescue centers I´m afraid to say, are not what they appear to be and if you sincerely wish for the sloths to live freely amongst us and not spend the rest of their miserable lives in cages, then please support a worthy cause, called WiSH (Wild Sloth Health).

At The Sloth Institute in Manuel Antonio, work is in progress to build a research lab (which is where WiSH comes in) to fully investigate what makes a healthy sloth.  Already, Sam Trull and her team are working 24/7 as a non-profit organization to rehabilitate injured and abandoned sloths for the sole purpose of getting them fit enough to return them back into the wild.

Sloths in training: Madonna and Elvis at The Sloth Institute, destined to be returned to the wild.

Madonna  elvis

Tourists are not welcome at The Sloth Institute for the sake and well-being of rehabilitation, but for sloth lovers, you can subscribe to their newsletters with updates on the remarkable work they do, all for the sole intention of creating a safer, healthier and happier future for these beautiful creatures in Costa Rica.

There´s also an opportunity to adopt a Sloth or buy their most adorable and enchanting book called Slothlove.  Each and every donation goes directly to the maintenance of the vulnerable sloths in their care, but vital funds are still needed for The Sloth Institute to continue on with their most valuable and vital work.

Recommended reading with awesome photography of sloths by Sam Trull


However, their most pressing endeavor right now is to complete the lab for the future of the sloths in Costa Rica.  And if you, like me and our team at Pura Vida Guide, believe in supporting The Sloth Institute to move forward and provide us with many more success stories like Monster, then please dig deep, even if it´s just a few spare dollars, and donate to this amazing cause.

So from the team at Pura Vida Guide……not forgetting Monster and her released friends, Ellen and Kermie, we thank you all for your support!

Little Monster says thank you! Living in freedom because of The Sloth Institute and her supporters.





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