The Sloths of Costa Rica – A Photo Essay

cailin sloth


My friend Scott captured this photo of me holding a Sloth named Oprah while I attempted to take a self portrait of the two of us with my Samsung Galaxy SIII. Oprah saw her mirror image and got excited about seeing another Sloth.

It’s animal week on! This is the first post of many! I bring you the adorable, cute and curious Sloths!

In Costa Rica on the Caribbean coast in the small town of Cahuita is an amazing place called “The Sloth Sanctuary“, where you guessed it, it is a sanctuary for Sloths. Open 6 days a week (closed on Mondays) the Sloth Sanctuary has tours available and is also a small bed and breakfast. You can take the Buttercup Tour named after the first sloth that started the whole Sanctuary and can still be seen hanging our there today or the Insider’s Tour which includes the Buttercup Tour but you also get to hold not one, not two but several sloths! While there they had over 100 sloths that had been saved from danger and brought to them and I was able to hold them of all shapes and sizes and ages from 1month and older. Three toed sloths and two toed sloths.

It truly was an amazing experience to hold these creatures, I can hardly describe it. Hopefully through this photo essay you will see how adorable they are and perhaps you will want to donate to the Sanctuary or at least visit if you ever make a trip to Costa Rica and go on a tour which helps keep them running as well.

sloth 07

Probably my favorite Sloth of them all. “Oprah” was about 9 months old and was the cutest thing imaginable.

sloth 10Second next cutest Sloth? Mojo. 9 months old but much smaller than the other Sloths, they say Mojo is an FTT Sloth. He has a “failure to thrive” and if it weren’t for the Sloth Sanctuary he might not of lived as long as he has but is doing better each day and was so active and curious. Adorable.

sloth hug 01

When Sloths are in the wild they are solitary creatures unless its a mother raising a baby. This Sloth was so young when his mother died that he locks onto other Sloths that he shares a cage with that are a similar age to him as if they were his mother. Sad but adorably cute. This other Sloth just couldn’t get rid of him.

sloth camera 01

An adorable baby Sloth from the Nursery at the Sanctuary out playing on the jungle gym became curious with my friend Scott’s camera.

sloth 12

I couldn’t get enough of Mojo hanging out in his incubator. He was so curious and almost jumped out of it!

sloth 11

Mojo being cute again.

sloth 09

This Sloth had a funny name – Sid Wiggin’s named after the Sloth from the Ice Age movies “Sid” and  Wiggins because when he was first brought in his hair on top of his head looked funny like a wig. Sid Wiggin’s is a three toed Sloth also known as a Bradypus Variegates.

sloth 08

A baby Sloth plays on his jungle gym.

sloth 06

This baby Sloth’s name was Pumpkin and was less than a month old. It’s believed Pumpkins mother was exposed to lots of farming chemicals and was essentially born similar to what we might call a Thalidomide Baby. He had just little flippers for arms and legs and most likely will loose one if not both of his eyes. Aside from these birth defects, thanks to the sanctuary he was eating and growing like there was no tomorrow.

sloth 05

Buttercup the Sloth. The mascot of the Sanctuary and probably the most photographed Sloth in the world. Buttercup was one of the first Sloths in the sanctuary and is who essentially started the whole thing.

sloth 04

One of the many Sloths being rehabilitated and hopefully successfully released back into the wild soon.

sloth 03

Sid Wiggin’s smiles for the camera.

sloth 02

Sid Wiggin’s gets a little curious.

cailin sloth 04

The photo I took on my phone of myself and Oprah the Sloth.

cailin sloth 03

A fuzzy funny photo of myself and the curious Oprah.

cailin sloth 02

Sid Wiggin’s attacks! Sure the Sloths are cute but their long claws can really dig into you as they hold on.

If you want to donate to the Sloth Sanctuary and help them with their research to better understand and help the Sloths check out their website and you can also learn more about the Sloths and the tours available.

Special thanks to who without my Sloth dreams would not of been able to come true! If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica or want help planning your trip contact them for the best experience possible in Costa Rica.


If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it!


  • Reply
    February 10, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    I hope I don’t sound to girly in saying I am overwhelmed with cuteness… Seeing baby sloths now becomes the reason I will visit Costa Rica. Great photos, Cailin!

    • Reply
      March 6, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      hahaha Not girly at all, they are adorable, no one can resist! haha thanks!

  • Reply
    January 10, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Hi Cailin,
    When were you there? We have been talking to the lady there and she also told us that we could not hold them either. We are making reservations at thier B&B and going on the more expensive tour as well. :(

    • Reply
      January 11, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      So weird… Perhaps I did have special permission? I didn’t organize my time there, perhaps someone else did or maybe they have recently changed things? Whatever you do don’t get me in trouble ;)

    • Reply
      July 25, 2018 at 11:09 am

      I’ve been trying to get to the sanctuary for 2 years, I also read and heard you cannot hold them :(

      • Reply
        July 31, 2018 at 11:12 pm

        I have heard that they have changed the holding rules too. I think it depends on if you might be staying there or not? Or perhaps now it is not allowed.

  • Reply
    January 9, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Sloths are some of my favourite animals – they just seem so gentle and curious. And despite the name, not lazy at all! They just move slowly to conserve energy because their diet doesn’t provide them with more, I’ve read. I loved these photos. During my time in Costa Rica I was on the opposite coast so I definitely need to go back.

    • Reply
      March 6, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      We were on the other side and I demanded we go back to see the sloths! haha You must visit again :)

  • Reply
    Camila Maria
    January 3, 2013 at 3:45 am

    I’ve always wanted to go to Costa Rica…specifically San Manuel Antonio park, but now I want to isit the Sloth Sanctuary as well!!!!!!!!!!!!! They’re so adorable!!


    • Reply
      March 6, 2013 at 9:52 pm

      Well now you have even bigger reasons to visit! :)

  • Reply
    December 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    I was just emailing with a woman from the Sanctuary and she said no one on any of their tours is allowed to touch the sloths. Did you have special permission? Loved your photos!

    • Reply
      January 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm

      Hello Lily, I wasn’t aware that I had special permission. I was on the “Insiders Tour” at the Sanctuary. :)

  • Reply
    December 26, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    I LOVE this! I fell for sloths a couple of years back when we were allowed into the pen in a zoo when I was doing a photography course, and I just sat there when everyone else had moved on to the apparently much cuter Capuchin monkeys, and they were so lovely & friendly! I’ve been wanting to go to Costa Rica for several reasons for quite a while, so I’ll bookmark this post for reference when I do!

    • Reply
      January 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm

      Thats so cool Linda! You definitely need to visit now :)

  • Reply
    December 17, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    This photo essay is SO incredibly adorable. I’m so jealous that you got to cuddle so many sloths! This place is definitely going on my list.

    • Reply
      December 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm

      OMG it was probably one of the coolest things ever! haha

Warning: Undefined variable $consent in /home/customer/www/ on line 49

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.