Costa Rica 2013, Part 8 and done.

I heard a request for MOAR SLORFS!! Not a problem.

I learned a scary lesson while sitting with Judy, the owner of the Sloth Sanctuary. I had fawned over Her Highness and then I was sitting not paying any attention to Princess Buttercup when she ever-so-slowly draped her arm over her head and let out this loud shrill scream. It sounded kind of like someone letting the air out of a balloon into a loudspeaker. It was off-putting to say the least. I turned to Judy and said something along the lines of, “What is God’s good name was that?” and Judy said, “That’s just Princess Buttercup telling you you should pay more attention to her.” In the wild, sloths are solitary creatures, so when the lady sloth is ready to mate she lets out that eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee and the males know there’s a willing and receptive female over yonder. Here’s a video I found of a female making the screamings. Piercing, is it not?

I forgot to include a cool fact about sloths yesterday: Those claws, they are bone. Exposed bone covered in keratin. And if they snap off, the sloths can regenerate them. Did I mention they are fascinatingly weird creatures? I don’t feel like I dwelt on that for long enough.

Here are the bathroom signs.

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Within the groupings of Three-Fingered and Two-Fingered, there are sub-groups dependent on the sloth’s location. For example, this is Delilah. They call her that because her hair is longer and darker than the other Two-Fingered Sloths, and THAT is because she is a mountain sloth and it is colder in the mountains.


There are some non-releasable sloths at the facility and I got to pet one named Millie. This is a picture of The Moomins rubbing Millie’s tummy. I could have loved on Millie all damn day. This was surprising: I expected sloths to have bristle-y fur, all rough and steel-wool-like. In reality they were quite smooth, like a Labrador retriever. I was not expecting that.


This is a Three-Fingered Sloth, I think his name is George. He is a permanent resident because he’s missing a front arm. I think he lost it from being electrocuted. He seemed okay with it.


Sloths tend to do well in captivity because they don’t move around much. If food is readily available, they will hang out in one crotch of a tree for days and days and days. I’m telling you, Princess Buttercup never leaves her wicker hanging chair. Sometimes Judy wraps her around her waist and takes her for a walk in the forest, but Princess Buttercup doesn’t like it. She likes her chair.

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This is Lightning. She’s a prima donna. She insists on her own big cage with her own bed and her own branches to climb on that she doesn’t have to share.


This is a Three-Fingered Sloth male. The only external difference between the TFS males and females is that big orange-and-cream-with-black-stripes marking on his back. If the sloth is unwell, or old, or malnourished, his colored markings fade and females know he’s not quality goods to mate with. In fact, if two male sloths show up to mate with the same female, they’ll check out each other’s back markings and the lesser one will often just leave rather than have the slowest battle-of-the-fittest in history.


Then there’s the Slothpital. That’s where broken sloths go to heal. I saw this one sleeping in what I would consider an uncomfortable position. He or she seemed fine with it though. Sloths: say what you want about them, they are mellow. There’s some eating, then some napping, once a week there’s pooping, every so often some mating, aaaaaaand that’s it.


I met Lenny in the Slothpital. He was born with a deformed jaw and he couldn’t latch on to his mother’s nipple, so he was rescued and fed with an eye dropper. He’s grown up into quite a lovely young fellow. You can see in this picture how his mouth won’t close.


I was wondering if sloths can hear well, and apparently they can. Jeff moved Lenny’s fur so I could see his sweet little seashell-like ear. OMG HOW CUTE IS THAT EAR!


Then we got to meet a bunch of wee orphan babies. They spend most of their day in the incubators clinging to stuffed animals, but we happened to come by while they were having their daily exercise. They do not like their daily exercise. They make sad complainy noises. It’s so adorable it hurts a little.

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I got video of the complaining!

This little one, the smallest of the bunch, he just wanted to gnaw on the wooden jungle gym.

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I got video of that too!

After this magical time with the wee babies, we picked some hibiscus flowers off of a hedge and brought them to two of the permanent residents. Sloths think hibiscus flowers are like candy. We saw some serious hibiscus drama unfold directly in front of us.

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Watch the footage!

That’s all the organized pictures I have. Now the straggler photos.

Two butterflies doin’ the nasty:


Some really terrific fern fists:


Queen’s Trumpet or Moonflowers. They have psychotropic qualities. If you make a tea with them, you see things that are not there. So don’t make a tea with them.


A lot of the now-natural reserves were farmland at the turn of the century. Since there wasn’t really fences anywhere, the farmers put these specific plants on the edge of their property. You can see those magenta leaves for quite a distance. So while we were walking through the Cahuita Reserve, we came across the marker plant of the former farm it used to be.


A gecko clinging to the ceiling:


And a vulture I saw hanging out on the side of the road eating roadkill. The black vultures I saw there were the most attractive carrion-eaters I’ve ever seen. They’re usually pretty grotesque-looking, but these guys are pretty okay.


That’s my trip to Costa Rica! If you have any questions, give me a holler and I’ll try to answer it with my limited ability. Oh, and my trip was organized by Latitudes Adventure. They did a great job. I recommend that you check ’em out.

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