Many of us who own pets have a great respect for animals in general and may check out a zoo or sanctuary in another country to see the animals that are indigenous to that region. In Cost Rica, one place you can volunteer and visit is the Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary located in the Limon province and home to over 100 sloths.
The sloths that have come to the sanctuary were rescued and some have been nursed back to health if they had injuries. The mission of the sanitary is to educate, preserve, and improve the welfare of sloths in Costa Rica. They study the behavior patterns, life-style, and do research to find ways to better their quality of life. Some of the sloths who live at the sanctuary were found on roadsides with injuries resulting from cars and others were saved from fires. Some sloths were brought there as babies who had fallen out of trees and their mothers were too scared of the dangers below to retrieve them. Others have been electrocuted from power lines and needed medical attention and TLC. Each sloth has a story to share and a smile on their face. If you’ve never seen a sloth, this is the place to go.
To volunteer, you need to contact the sanctuary and let them know the dates you’re interested. They require a 2 to 4 week commitment and the price is $30.00 a day. You will live on the grounds, be provided meals, a place to sleep, and work directly with the sloths. Some of the daily activities that you’d be asked to do are to take the sloths for walks and feed them their meals, and some general maintenance and paperwork for the sanctuary. They do make sure that you have hands on time with the sloths so you understand and bond with these remarkable creatures.
If you’re unable to volunteer, you can always tour the sanctuary. The tour is about 2 hours with a canoe ride down the Estrella River where you can view wild sloths and other creatures that live in the rainforest. After that, you’ll head to the learning center where you can meet some of the resident adult sloths and finally, meet the babies. Buttercup, the first sloth at Aviarios will also greet you.
When it’s all over, you’ll have a greater appreciation of why the rainforest is special, why the creatures who live there need it, and what you can do to help preserve the environment and sloths who need it. Plus you’ll probably never see so many smiling fuzzy faces ever again in your life!