By Jessica Barnett
MONTEVERDE, Costa Rica – No other country in the world has a rescue and rehabilitation program for sloths. Thanks to one family, Costa Rica now has two.
It all started with Buttercup, a baby three-fingered sloth, when she was orphaned in 1992. Some children found the sloth and brought the baby to Judy and Luis Arroyo, who ran a bed and breakfast near Limón, Costa Rica at the time. Since then, the arrival of several more sloths transformed their hotel into the Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica.
Judy Arroyo’s daughter, Ursula Rochte, is carrying on the family tradition. Rochte has lived in Monteverde for six years, where she opened the Sloth Sanctuary in November 2010. The sanctuary houses twelve adult sloths, three two-fingered sloths and three three-fingered sloths, all of which are permanent residents of the sanctuary.
The original sanctuary has been able to rehabilitate and rerelease dozens of sloths back into the wild. They have also hand-reared over one hundred sloths. They currently have about 130 adults and 15 infants.
The sloth sanctuaries do more than just provide rescue and rehabilitation services. They also have education programs to teach people about the dangers that sloths face such as power lines, habitat loss, pesticides, violence and hunting by humans. Rochte hopes that with these programs, people might change the way they think about sloths and other animals that face the same dangers.