Wonderful World of the Sloth


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Yes, well, I dropped a hint about sloths in a past post, so now I am here to make good on my promise to share more. We were fortunate to observe this creature on several occasions while in Costa Rica. This particular sloth was living up at Peace Lodge Wildlife Habitat and was, in fact, my first exposure to see one. It truly was not what I expected. Of course this one was so large and hairy. We have seen leaner versions that I suspect get more exercise than this fellow. Our next encounter would be down in Manuel Antonio National Park where one was spotted high in the treetop and pointed out to us by our guide. It was a hot day and not much wildlife was stirring beyond heavy breathing that day, so no good photo was to be had. But patience and perseverance paid off as time went by. If you grow to understand the nature of these animals, they basically have a set agenda. Eat, get high and sleep. Not unlike many of Manuel Antonio’s two legged residents. 😉 Kidding aside, once this animal is spotted in an area of town, it will be likely you can catch it there at another time as well, for they have favorite trees for eating, sleeping and hanging out. Our “perfect place” turned out to be on the busy Manuel Antonio road, almost directly across the from the Super Joseth grocery store. When driving on vacation it is good to be observant of any activity on the roadside.  Whenever a group of people is gathered, looking up and pointing, you can be certain that there is some wonder to behold, so pull on over. Chances are it will be something unique and magnificent. This was yet another was reason why, even after living in the community for awhile, I never left our little house without a camera of some kind.. An opportunity missed can be heartbreaking for a photo fanatic like me.

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The first time I saw a sloth, as it appeared in my first photo, I didn’t “get” the whole Sid the Sloth comparison from Ice Age. Until I saw this guy. looking at his friendly face, I half expected him to start talking! Often when you spot these animals they are simply sleeping off an overindulgence of their favorite leaves. When our guide explained how they get high from the green delights and sleep for extended periods, I asked if any of them ever fell from the branches. He said, oh yes, sometimes. My next obvious question was whether they were injured. He replied, “Well, if they land on their feet then no. But if they land on their head, then they’re for shit.” And he laughed. It didn’t seem like that happened too often. The guides have a wealth of knowledge about the animals in the park and share it so generously, along with their own brand of humor. The photo above was shot at the bus stop across from the Super Joseth, one of many days of sloth watching we enjoyed. We had visitors on two separate occasions and were so excited when showing them around, that our friends showed up, as if on cue, to amaze and entertain us all.  It is interesting to spot a sloth, even snoozing, but when they are active, it is like a slow motion thrill ride. Their movements are so deliberate and graceful. What once appears as a furry ball suddenly looks like a bearskin rug with a raccoon face. I saw one crossing the road once and it was surreal. It looked more like it was sliding along rather than walking.

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There are two toed and three toed varieties of sloths but we have only had the privilege to observe the three toed group. They just make you want to say “Awww…” in spite of any desire to control your emotions.

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I have gotten a couple of video shots but when they move it is sporadic. The street noise with buses zooming by and all manner of vehicular traffic invading their space just doesn’t seem to bother them at all.

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How can you not adore that Teddy Bear face? It is nearly impossible to duplicate on a cuddle toy, although I have seen some nice attempts at the airport gift shops.

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This fellow was trying to find just the right spot to settle into. Amazingly enough he was not terribly high above the ground.

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This shot was from a different day, and although it is hard to tell, this mother has her infant clinging to her chest as she gathers leaves for them both and scales the branches looking for the choicest ones.

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This shot was taken from a video we did. They were fairly active that day and there were two of them together.

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And when they settle in for a long nap, it is more difficult to spot them high up in the branches. They kind of take on the appearance of a giant ball of hairy gray moss attached to the tree.

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So, whenever you go to Manuel Antonio and wander into the Super Joseth for your supplies, as you are certain to at some point, be sure to take a glance at the bus stop across the street, just in case……

Happy Animal Watching everyone!

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That? What is it? Well, it’s a kind of porcupine. But I’ll save that for later. It was another interesting story.

Ciao!

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