“A Little Book of Sloth” Meet the sloths of Aviarios sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica

Did you know that sloths spend 70 percent of their time “resting”? Their nerves have evolved to not react to loud noises, which allows them to kick back on tree tops for long periods of time blending with the environment. “Sixty million years of evolution have made sloths the absolute masters of mellow,” writes Lucy Cooke in her new book, A Little Book of Sloth (Simon & Schuster, $16.99).

Sprinkled with adorable pictures taken by Cooke of the sloths living at the Aviarios del Caribe sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica, the book is a delight for both kids and adults. Simply flipping through the pages and seeing the ever smiling two and three-toed sloths is enough to brighten anyone’s day. And the baby sloths are beyond cute!

If a book can singlehandedly calm down an entire classroom, this is the one. Meet Buttercup, a three-toed sloth who started the sanctuary 20 years ago, hanging out in her hammock. Fall in love with bad-boy Mateo, gush over baby Biscuit, and admire paraplegic baby Ubu who is a champion hugger.

At the sanctuary, the sloths spend their time hanging, climbing, eating, sleeping, hugging, smiling, washing, hiding, pooping, snuggling, dreaming—very, very slowly. Cooke, renowned British filmmaker and National Geographic explorer, captures all these moments with humor and introduces readers to a species in need of our attention.

Aviarios sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica is the world’s largest sloth orphanage. Situated in Limon on the Caribbean side of the country, the sanctuary started by Judy Arroyo is home to 150 rescued sloths. In recent years, these delightful and defenseless animals have been captured illegally by poachers and sold as pets. They are also victims of car accidents and are facing habitat destruction.

These slow-moving animals, as charming as they are, belong in the wild in the rainforest. They are solitary animals and are important to the rainforest ecosystem as they provide habitat for other organisms. A single sloth may be home to moths, beetles, fungi, and algae. Aviarios Sanctuary cares for abandoned and mistreated sloths, rehabilitates them and re-enters them into the wild.

When Cooke visited the sanctuary, she instantly fell in love. “I love their sweet smiles, slo-mo lifestyles and innate hug-a-bility. I believe that being fast is overrated and the sloth is the true king of the jungle,” she shared on her website Slothville. Cooke founded the Sloth Appreciation Society to start a “slow movement” to get people to appreciate sloths around the world.

But the movement has been anything but slow. Her videos of the Aviarios sloths, “Meet the Sloths” and “Buckets of Sloths”, became worldwide hits with more than 10 million views. Who wouldn’t love looking at cute sloths nibbling away on some greens and falling asleep while eating or a bucket of babies being carried away as they snooze.

If you are looking for a book full of breathtaking photos, which also provides funny and educational facts on these odd and precious animals for families and students, be sure to pick up A Little Book of Sloth. A percentage of sales will go towards sloth conservation.

The Aviarios sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica relies on donations to continue rescuing and rehabilitating injured and orphaned sloths. To support, please visit the Aviarios website.

Published on NBC Petside on March 15, 2013

Published by Lavanya

Lavanya Sunkara is a writer, animal lover, and globetrotter based in New York City. She has written for The New York Times, Fodor’s, Architectural Digest, Shermans Travel, The Dodo, and many more in a career spanning eight years. She covers travel, eco-lifestyle, culture, pets, and wildlife conservation.

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