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Where You Can Hold a Sloth in Costa Rica – It Might Surprise You!

Sloths are adorable and unique animals that you don’t come across often. However, Costa Rica is home to two different species of sloths, the two-toed and the three-toed sloths.

Costa Rica is a place where you can have your very own sloth experience. Costa Rica has sloth sanctuaries that rescue displaced, orphaned, or injured sloths, and tourists can visit and have a fun and educational experience.

If you’re looking to hold a sloth in Costa Rica, however, that is a little more complicated than taking a day out of your time there to spend time with a sloth.


Where Can I Hold a Sloth Costa Rica?

While you can get up close and personal with the sloths in Costa Rica, sloths cannot be held by tourists. This is because, as a result, it impacts the health of sloths. It is also done to prevent sloths from getting anxious from constant contact with unknown people. However, if you are spending a significant amount of time there, consider becoming a trained worker at a sloth sanctuary.


Why Can’t You Hold a Sloth at Costa Rica Sanctuaries?

The answer to that is two-fold. In the wild, sloths are relatively solitary creatures.

They only interact with each other during the breeding season, and while caring for their babies. Because of this, adult sloths do not seek attention.

Sloths that have spent their lives in sanctuaries and are unable to be released do form bonds with the workers who care for them daily, unlike in the wild.

This bond does not extend to strangers though, and sanctuaries in Costa Rica have found that letting crowds of tourists hold sloths causes them distress.

They found that these sloths were changing their behavior. The typical sleeping pattern of a sloth is to sleep around 15 hours a day because they are more alert and fearful of being held and are losing valuable sleep, causing health problems.


Sloth Sanctuary Experience

Just because you can’t hold a sloth at a sanctuary, does not mean that you can’t have an up-close experience.

The Sloth Sanctuary Costa Rica was founded in 1992 and was the first organization in the country to dedicate work to protecting the species.

They offer several different tours that are designed to show exactly how sloths live. When circumstances permit, they have a canoe trip that hoes directly through the environment in which the sloths live in their sanctuary.

They also have behind-the-scenes tours, which bring you as close as you can get to their long-term sloth residents. All of their tours offer the backstory and their continued mission to conserve the species.

At the Toucan Rescue Ranch, you can take an in-depth tour through the sanctuary and learn more about sloths.

With the adorable name of Slothies & Coffees, the educational walk is perfect for a sloth lover. During the walk, you will be able to see the sanctuary and some of its residents.

After the walk, there will be coffee and pastries offered. These will be enjoyed right next to the sloths that will remain in the sanctuary permanently.


Volunteering Versus Working at a Sloth Sanctuary

It is possible to hold a sloth in Costa Rica, but it involves working behind the scenes. In the past, sanctuaries allowed their volunteers to hold sloths. However, in the past five years, most sanctuaries have shifted from this practice.

Being met by a high volume of volunteers can still cause stress for the sloths, even though they are present more consistently, it is often short-term.

Working with a sloth sanctuary long-term is a rewarding experience, but in no way should it be thought of as a chance to play with wild animals.

The sloths and other wildlife in these sanctuaries need a high level of care and a lot of hard work must be put in.


Frequently Asked Questions About Where I Can Hold a Sloth in Costa Rica


Can I hold a sloth if it is at an attraction that is not a sanctuary in Costa Rica?

While it might seem tempting when you see people on the side of the road with sloths offering a photo, opt for money to remove these sloths from their habitat foreseeable. They oftentimes orphan baby sloths that, once they have made money off them, abandon them. This is also an illegal practice and further damages the conservation of the species of sloth in Costa Rica.


Can I hold a wild sloth in Costa Rica?

You cannot hold a wild sloth. As of 2019, holding or touching wildlife in Costa Rica, including sloths, is illegal. This law was passed to preserve and protect their local wildlife.


If sloths don’t like to be held, why do they look like they’re hugging people?

While it may come across like a sloth that looks like they’re giving a hug, it has nothing to do with affection. The way that sloths hold on to trees and their mothers in the wild is by holding on in that fashion. When they are held or dangle for long periods from their arms, they experience discomfort.

In Conclusion

While you may want to hold a sloth while in Costa Rica, it is illegal without the proper training while working directly with a sanctuary.

If you are in Costa Rica for a stay, consider volunteering at a sloth sanctuary. A sloth sanctuary is more rewarding than just having a one-time experience with a sloth.

You can rehabilitate and nurse orphaned, injured, and disabled animals back to health.