A: No. Although you might see photos online of people holding sloths in the past, we learned that it is acutely stressful for the sloths to be held by strangers. Visitors are not allowed to handle sloths; only trained Sanctuary staff may do so. For your own safety, do not touch or hold a sloth, even if they reach out toward you.
They do not show obvious external signs of stress and may bite in self-defense if a stranger tries to hold them. Sloths are wild animals and are not accustomed to being held by humans. Their natural response to fear or danger is to be still, so it is difficult to discern when a sloth is under stress. We recently discovered that the heart rate of a baby sloth can increase by almost double when being handled by a stranger.
Frequent handling also exposes sloths to germs and bacteria against which they do not have natural defenses. Similarly, the chemicals in cosmetics, deodorant, insect repellent and sunscreen that a stranger is wearing can be extremely harmful to sloths.
We want to educate the public about sloths and their role in the Costa Rican ecosystem. Our resident sloths are not pets; we do not sell or adopt them out to individuals. In fact, in Costa Rica, it is illegal to keep a sloth as a pet. Sloths are very gentle by nature, but are wild animals and demand our respect and understanding.
A: We understand your passion for sloths, but unfortunately, no we cannot accept volunteers. Training and monitoring volunteers detracts from our mission of sloth rescue, rehabilitation, release and research. We appreciate your interest but do not accept interns or volunteers. If you are a student looking to specialize in sloths, you’ll need to follow an education path that involves zoology at the university level.
A: Reservations are not required for the Buttercup Tour! Start times are on the hour from 8AM to 2PM, Tuesday through Sunday. We’re closed Mondays. Please arrive at least 15 minutes in advance of the tour start time for registration and payment. Duration is 2 hours. Adults & children 11 and older: $30 per person / Children 5–10: $15 per person / Children 4 years and younger: free. More about our tours here.
Q: I’m trying to plan my visit to the Sanctuary. What is the weather there?
A: There are two main “seasons” in Costa Rica. In our area, they are the High/Dry Season: February, March, September & October and the Green/Rainy Season: November–January, April–August.
Q: Comparing your tours, I see the 2-hour tour is $30 per person and the 4-hour tour is $150 per person. Why is the longer tour so much more?
A: The Insider’s Tour (AM or PM) is longer because it includes a personal guide and a special behind-the-scenes visit to areas not open to the general public. Plus, the tour group size is smaller. For a basic introduction to sloths, the Buttercup Tour is a more affordable option.
A: Most of the sloths that arrive at the Sanctuary have been injured, orphaned, kept illegally as pets and sometimes even abused. We have opened our Sanctuary to give the public an opportunity to learn about sloths and their diminishing habitat due to development.
Orphaned infant sloths lack the basic survival skills necessary to thrive in the wild. They were not with their mothers long enough to learn the valuable lessons of which leaves to eat, how to climb high in the canopy to avoid predators and other critical skills. The Sanctuary staff teaches orphaned infants how to climb, eat and other behaviors they would have learned from their mothers. Releasing these hand-raised babies into the wild would result in a very high mortality rate.
The 30-year commitment necessary to care for each infant sloth brought to the Sanctuary is significant. Our research efforts are continually reviewing ways in which sloths can be transitioned into the wild without jeopardizing their health and longevity.
Other questions? info@SlothSanctuary.com