Ever since Kristen Bell’s meltdown over her supreme love of sloths on national television, sloths have been gaining more and more media attention for their cute looks and equally cute squeaks. Sadly, and not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for someone to try to take advantage of these peaceful beasts’ extreme cuteness and current popularity.
Recent information leads us to believe that a once trusted animal sanctuary, Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica, is actually the farthest a place can get from a sanctuary. This gross misuse of power and resources has been allowed to continue for as long as it has because of misinformation and general ignorance by the public of proper sloth care. The most shocking part of it all, the voucher for the operation is from Animal Planet themselves. Animal Planet featured the sanctuary on, “Meet the Sloths,” as a series of shorts in 2013 that was inspired by the Vine craze that also flooded the internet.
What was so bad about cute, short videos of adorable animals, after all?
Animal Planet obviously didn’t do their research very well.
First hand reports have shown severe animal abuse and neglect hidden under the guise of being a safe place to rehabilitate and house sloths. The abuses taking place should sound very familiar to the average advocate against puppy and kitten mills, except for the added bonus of the business charging admission for a look.
The Environment: The cages are too small (the smallest at just 2 feet wide, and they are kept in pairs or up to four individuals per cage) and overcrowding severely stresses out these normally very solitary creatures. Even though these animals are known to be very slow, they are missing out on the adequate amount of exercise needed. The sloths become agitated because of their close quarters, and as a result, the sloths attack each other, or mate, resulting in even more overcrowding. One sloth in particular, Roxie, suffered a serious injury when her scalp was literally ripped off of her head by another sloth in a fight. A baby sloth, Peppa, allegedly had her leg eaten off by her own mother due to stress.
Still, the amount of sloths they possess seems to rise each year. In 2013 the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica only imprisoned 150 sloths, and today, they own over 200.
They clearly haven’t slowed down their operation.
The improper containment and imprisonment of these animals at the sanctuary is detrimental to the sloth’s mental and physical well-being.
Thankfully, some visitors and not just ex-staff are starting to take notice of the facilities treatment of the sloths and trying to speak out. Reviews like the one below are not difficult to find when googling the sanctuary:
The Healthcare: The caretakers at the sanctuary do not provide the appropriate diet and healthcare these animals so desperately need. The sloths there are often fed raw or cooked vegetables in place of their natural diet which consists of specific kinds of leaves. This causes many issues with their bodies such as the overgrowth of teeth that come right through their jaws, and even severe blockages that can result in death. It has been reported that some sloths at the sanctuary have not been able to see the care of a vet for as long as six years; the owner’s defense? Vets cost money.
It begs us to question, just where is the donation money going?
So, where is the donation money going?
This information has not yet been provided, but it is clear that the money is not going towards the sloths’ health and wellbeing.
For years, people who have come to visit these awkwardly adorable animals have been fooled into thinking that the sloths were in any way safe, or happy. With the “sanctuary’s” own veterinarians being eyewitnesses to the abuse, and photographic evidence going viral across the web, can we really ignore what is taking place? Even if it’s thousands of miles away? The answer is very clearly, ‘no’. So, here are a few ways to get involved:
How You Can Help
Individually we don’t have a lot we can do to make a difference, or at least that’s what we tell ourselves amidst tragedy or crisis when we feel so utterly powerless — however, together we can. So long as we commit to do our part, our overwhelming, combined efforts can improve or even save the lives of these helpless sloths.
1. Get celebrities involved:
As was stated before, there might not be a single person on this earth who loves sloths more than Kristen Bell. Her love for them became so well known that TV show host Ellen Degeneres has had her visit her show not once but twice to overwhelm the star with a real life sloth and sloth paraphernalia.
Tweeting Kristen Bell’s official twitter, tagging her on Instagram posts, and such similar methods — by huge amounts of people — is bound to get her attention and allow her to see that her beloved, most favorite animal is being mistreated all in the name of profit.
Seeing such a trend on social media, of droves of people informing the world about this heinousness is bound to gain some attention.
2. Sign the online petition:→HERE←
Change.org, a well known petition generating site, is now being used as a platform to gather signatures to get the “sanctuary” shut down.
They currently are a little over half way to their goal of 5,000 signatures.
Petitions are perfect evidence that every individual’s stance on something matters and can make a difference.
Again, go to Change.org to sign the petition, and save the sloths!
3. Tell everyone you know:
This article leads an example of how to inform your friends.
Encourage those you know to reach out to known celebrities who support animal causes.
Share the links to the petition both on social media and with friends so that they can sign and then pass them on, also.
If we work together, we can turn this scam into a happy ending for the remaining sloths still holding on. Only time and our due diligence will tell.