4 Vegan recipes to help sloths

 4 Vegan recipes to help sloths

Deforestation to make way for cattle farming is a problem growing as exponentially as the human population. Cows make a lot of methane as part of their digestion process, and so instead of forests full of trees making breathable oxygen, you get feedlots full of cattle making greenhouse gasses.

vegan recipe

 

So what is Veganuary? Veganuary is a challenge that encourages meat-eaters to adopt a plant-based lifestyle throughout the month of January.  

We challenge you to try out some of these delicious vegan recipes. By now most of us are aware of the positive environmental impacts of reducing our meat consumption on the planet which in turn helps sloths!

1. Rice n´Beans

First up we have picked a traditional meal eaten daily in the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica. It is hearty, warm, coconutty, and filling! Rice n’ Beans. Let us know what you think! 

 

vegan recipe

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of cooked red beans
  • 2 cups of white rice 
  • 1 finely chopped white onion
  • 1 Panamanian Chile (optional)
  • 1/2 finely chopped red pepper 
  • 4 blended or very finely cut garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger (fresh grated or ground)
  • 3 sticks of fresh thyme
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of vegetable stock
  • 2 spoons of coconut oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • *Lizano sauce to taste (optional, gives authentic Costa Rican flavor)

Method:

  1. Cool off the onion, chili, red pepper, garlic, and ginger with coconut oil.
  2. Add in coconut milk, vegetable stock, thyme, season with salt, pepper, and Salsa Lizano to taste.
  3. Add rice and beans and mix.
  4. Cook until liquid has evaporated and rice is cooked.

2. Banana Cake

Our second recipe is one of everyone’s favorite desserts that is also inspired by Costa Rica, a banana cake! Make sure to use responsibly sourced bananas! 

 

banana cake

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 large black bananas
  • 225g plain or integral flour 
  • 75ml vegetable oil or sunflower oil
  • 100g brown sugar (can be halved depending on sweet tooth)
  • 3 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • A handful of choc chips or nuts (optional)

Method

  1.  Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Mash 3 large black peeled bananas with a fork, then mix with oil and brown sugar.
  2.  Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and dark chocolate chips or nuts.
  3.  Bake in well-greased (with vegan butter or veg oil), or lined loaf tin for 20 minutes. Check and cover with foil if the cake is browning.
  4.  Bake for another 20 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

Enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee, for a snack or breakfast. Not only can converting to a plant-based diet be better for the planet but also better for you too!

3. No-Meat-Balls

Now we have a heartier meal for you, to fill you up and keep you warm and full this winter!  This next recipe is for Vegan No-Meat-Balls. Sometimes people miss the ‘meaty’ texture when trying out plant-based meals, these healthy meatball alternatives may help fill that void! This is also a great protein alternative with 4g of protein per ball! 

 

no meat balls recipe vegan

 

Ingredients

  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 x 400g can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 50g rolled oats
  • 50g finely chopped mushroom
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs

Method:

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic, mushrooms, and paprika and cook further until needed, add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Blitz the black beans and oats in a food processor/blender until you have a chunky, textured mixture. Tip the bean/oat mix, onions, and breadcrumbs into a bowl and mix. 
  3. Roll into balls and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. (This helps to bind)
  4. Heat the oven to 180°c fan. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat and add the balls and fry until evenly brown. Transfer to a baking tray and put in the oven to cook through for 10 mins. 
  5. Serve with homemade chili and garlic tomato sauce and pasta. Or for a pasta-free/gluten-free alternative use courgetti! (This is very easy to make at home with courgette in thin strips!) 

*NOTE these no meatballs may crumble more than a normal meatball, however they are just as delicious! 

4. Banana choc chip nice-cream

Now for the last recipe, we have brought you a delicious dessert! A plant-based ice cream alternative that is one of the easiest things to make at home!

banana nice cream vegan

 

This Banana choc chip nice-cream is a go-to recipe when you are craving a night in with some ice cream, it also happens to be a healthier alternative!  This recipe is very adaptable as long as you keep the frozen banana and plant milk base! Our favorite version is Choc chip so we will share that version below!

 Ingredients:

  • 2-3 frozen bananas *TIP* Freese without skin and broken in 2-3 pieces.
  • ½ cup of any plant-based milk! (Oat or Cashew are our favorites for added creaminess)
  • 1 tbs of cacao powder
  • Dark choc chips.

Blend Frozen bananas, cacao powder, and plant milk in a high-speed blender until thick and ice cream texture. Add Choc chips and serve! 

If you don’t like chocolate then you can add any flavor you like to the banana and plant milk mix to make your desired nice-cream flavor.

 

veganuary

 

It can be very overwhelming when converting to a vegan diet, our biggest advice to you is don’t overcomplicate it or put too much pressure on yourself. Start with one or two meals a week, start simple, lots of veggies, in salads or roasted in the oven. Then you could try to ‘Veganise’ some of your favorite meals, using lentils, pulses, and tofu! It is all about little steps to a greener future! 

 

-Ashley Raine

Pura Wildlife

SloCo Collaborator

 

What are cryptocurrencies, and what have they got to do with sloths?

What are cryptocurrencies, and what have they got to do with sloths?

Cryptocurrencies are digital currency that is not issued by a central authority, such as the government of any particular country.

Mining crypto actually requires doing a lot of calculations involving blockchains to process these currency transactions around the world. This takes lots of computers, and lots of energy and anything that uses energy has a potential environmental impact.

Some cryptos, like Bitcoin, are designed to use lots of energy and processing power in order to keep it exclusive and difficult to replicate. Others, such as Solarcoin or Bitgreen, are designed to incentivize eco-friendly power options.

Governments are also stepping in to encourage cryptocurrencies to use only energy in the grid that would otherwise go to waste by giving tax breaks and environmental rebates.

This is important because the total energy usage of these server farms could power a country. Literally. The entire country of Argentina uses less electricity than farming Bitcoins.

What happens if you have some cryptocurrencies and want to donate them to conservation organizations like SloCo?

Cryptocurrencies are worth $3.3 trillion and are not going away any time soon. We at SloCo believe that rather than abstaining from the future, we should fix it. We do accept cryptocurrencies, and then we work hard to keep it green.

If you donate in crypto, we use a system called Giving Block to convert it immediately into more usual currencies, such as the US dollar.

You can also do your part to keep these currencies of the future good for the future

Support laws in your area that incentivize renewable energy usage in general and for crypto mining specifically. Let energy-intensive cryptos like Bitcoin or Etherium know that you support them transitioning to more environmentally-friendly models.

Finally, donate to organizations like SloCo, where we will help offset the carbon footprint for you!

Our staff of 17 people uses only two vehicles for the entire organization, and only when we can’t travel by bicycle. 16 of us do not even own cars, and we work very hard to live local so that we can keep doing this. We eat and shop local too, eat lots of plants, and recycle everything we possibly can. We opt out of big fashion by buying used clothes and wearing them out. We reduce our need for air travel, and when we do have to fly, we pack light.

If you have an interest in donating cryptocurrencies to SloCo, we have the will to make it work. All of your donations go towards planting trees, ethically bringing down feral dog populations, installing wildlife bridges, promoting responsible tourism, and of course studying sloths. The more we know, the better solutions we will have to ALL of our problems, and we are certain that together, we’ll find a way forward.

Why did the wildlife cross the road?

Why did the wildlife cross the road?

To expand into new territories and look for mates or food. It isn’t hard to imagine why animals need to move around, but when you work in conservation, the more interesting question is: how?

There’s a road that runs through the jungles of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in Costa Rica. Until a few years ago, it had never been properly paved. When the work crews first came through to turn it into a paved road, with smooth pavement and yellow lines, those of us who live here knew it would have an impact on the local wildlife, but we had no idea how much. The New Road, as it’s now called, meant more cars coming through faster than ever, and, to further expedite the traffic, large trees on either side of the road were cut down.

 

Sloth road
Sloths on the ground look more like a baby trying to crawl. / Photo: Suzi Eszterhas

 

Habitat fragmentation has a huge impact on the species that live there. Just like us, they need to get from point A to point B, but unlike us, white-faced capuchins don’t have driver’s licenses (probably a good thing), turtles don’t know how to use crosswalks (probably a bad thing), and snakes don’t look like obstacles until it’s too late (definitely a bad thing).

The problem of habitat fragmentation and wildlife road mortality is not unique to Costa Rica, but is a worldwide issue. In Canada over 6,000 animals per year are recorded as roadkill. These deaths are tragic to the animals involved as well as the species they represent and the biodiversity they support.

Solutions from Canada

In Canada, The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is a leader in protecting natural areas and biodiversity across the country, but the lessons learned and proven strategies for integrating natural spaces with human development are applicable everywhere.

 

Turtle using the passage / Credits: Long Point Causeway

 

NCC has supported innovative projects such as the T5 Eco Passing over a major highway in Ontario, an ambitious grassy bridge that connects large restoration areas on either side of the highway, and the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project, a community-based revitalization of the causeway linking Long Point Peninsula and Lake Erie. The conservation community has come back with a very simple answer to the question:

How does wildlife cross the road?

Back in Costa Rica, the new road through Puerto Viejo has an average elevation of about 10 centimeters above sea level and frequently runs through the Maritime Zone, which is fewer than 50 meters from the coastline, making the “under” solution problematic. Water tables are so high most of the year that even shallow holes quickly flood.

Solutions from Costa Rica

Armed with durable lengths of green rope, a few courageous tree climbers, and a three-meter-long slingshot (yes, really), The Sloth Conservation Foundation’s (SloCo’s) and its Sloth Crossing Project team have installed over 130 bridges connecting giant jungle trees across high-traffic areas along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.

 

A single rope Sloth Crossing wildlife bridge
A single rope Sloth Crossing wildlife bridge

 

Sloths, monkeys, kinkajou, possums, tree frogs, and dozens of other animals are very happy to move from tree to tree without ever setting foot on the ground — or near the road. These simple bridges look like a tightrope of thick, green cable, and are installed 15 or more meters above the road. Large trucks can pass safely underneath, and the nimble canopy dwellers can climb along overhead.

The next stage

SloCo will soon be launching Phase 2 of the Sloth Crossing Project, which is to install cameras along the ropes to monitor how many and what kinds of wildlife the sloths share bridges with.

 

camera trap crossing

 

People and wildlife both need to get where they are going as safely as possible. The good news is that these requirements are not mutually exclusive! Reducing traffic collisions is in everybody’s best interest, and one thing proven by conservationists around the world is that where there’s a will, there’s a way. All it takes is an open mind and a little bit of imagination.

-Ames Reedder

In collaboration with NCC

Meat Out Day: Can the sloths’ diet save the planet?

Meat Out Day: Can the sloths’ diet save the planet?

‘Meat out day’ encourages you to think about your meat consumption. Sloths have evolved over millions of years eating a purely leaf-based diet. Nowadays many people are opting to switch to more plant-based diets, but apart from the obvious ethical reasons, why are people choosing to go meat-free? 

 

eating leaves meat out

1. Going Meat Out for the environmental impacts

Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change, with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimating that livestock production is responsible for 14.5 % of global greenhouse gas emissions. The climate-altering carbon emissions associated with a single gram of protein from beef are at least 7.5 times higher than those associated with a gram of protein from plant sources.

 

meat out sloths
Image: Canva

 

Despite this scary statistic, meat consumption has almost tripled in the last few decades which has resulted in an explosion of livestock numbers, which in turn has a huge environmental impact. Intensive meat and dairy production is a major driver of deforestation globally. 

With livestock covering 45% of the earth’s total land, there is no question that we are chasing wildlife out of their natural habitats with our unsustainable eating practices – and this includes our beloved sloths.

2. Eating less meat to protect sloth habitats

There is no denying that animal agriculture is one of the biggest causes of deforestation worldwide. The rainforests of Central and South America are a hot spot for this growing economy, where commercial agriculture is the main cause of deforestation, (according to a new FAO report, The State of the World’s Forests 2016) with acres of rainforest being burnt down every day to make way for animal agriculture – livestock and animal feed.

 

meat out
Image by NickyPe/Pixabay

 

This rapid growth in livestock farming has made Latin America the largest exporter of beef and poultry in the world. This level of rainforest destruction is increasing annually and poses a direct threat to sloths and the rainforst that they need for survival.

3. Reduce the water crisis

We are on the brink of a water crisis. According to the United Nations, 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity by 2030. UNESCO Institute for Water Education states that production of a meat-based diet typically consumes twice the amount of water as compared to a plant-based diet. 

On average it takes between 15,000 and 20,000 liters of water to produce one kilogram of beef, which works out to approximately 3,000 liters of water to produce one 200g beef burger the equivalent of 30 five-minute showers.

 

water desert
Freepik

4. Sustaining the human population

Animal agriculture is a really inefficient way to produce enough food for everyone on the planet. According to the United Nations, the world population is set to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 and could peak at nearly 11 billion around 2100.For every 100 calories of crops fed to animals, we get 40 calories in the form of milk, 12 calories of chicken, and just 3 calories of beef. Instead, that grain could be used to feed people directly and would help ensure everyone has enough food. 

 

5. Health reasons (including preventing the next pandemic)

Apart from the lighter environmental footprint, many people are moving towards plant-based eating for health benefits. With evidence linking high red meat consumption to cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes; and whole-food, plant-based eating being seen to prevent, halt, or even reverse chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 

Wet markets are places where people can buy a variety of live and wild animals for consumption. Scientists are currently investigating the origin of the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, and although they can’t confirm that the origin of the virus was the market in Wuhan  (there are publications suggesting the virus circulation in various countries earlier than the first case in Wuhan, although these require confirmation), it was probably the amplifying event that unchained the pandemic. Reducing the amount of meat we eat and banning the consumption of wild animals can help prevent future pandemic outbreaks.

 

wet market meat out

Eat a salad and help sloths!

Reducing your consumption of meat and animal products can directly help to protect sloths – by combating deforestation, climate change, pollution, and water scarcity. But don’t panic – we aren’t suggesting that everyone should adopt a vegan diet tomorrow! We simply need to develop a sense of “meat consciousness” and reduce the levels of animal products in our diets. Perhaps try to start with one meat-free day each week and see how it goes? Every little counts!

Why not take a tip from the sloths and ‘leaf’ it out. 

sloth salad
Try this delicious salad of leaves, avocado, cacao nibs, nuts, edible flowers, and more!

-Ashley Raine

Pura Wildlife Initiative

SloCo Collaborator

 

Giving Tuesday with the sloths!

Giving Tuesday with the sloths!

Giving Tuesday is finally here and the festive season is just around the corner (doesn’t it feel like 2020 has somehow been both the fastest and the slowest year ever?). We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting us throughout this difficult time.

Despite the challenges faced in 2020, we have managed to continue running, growing and expanding all of our sloth conservation programs – and also supporting the local community here in Costa Rica!

A year to give back

Earlier this year we celebrated #GivingTuesdayNow – a global day of giving as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. We took this opportunity to provide emergency assistance to local families in the South Caribbean of Costa Rica to ensure they have access to essential resources. 

By helping local communities and prioritizing their needs during difficult times, we are able to build trust and utilize indigenous knowledge, which in turn has a positive influence on our conservation outcomes. Protecting sloths means protecting people!

 

giving tuesday

This year we want to highlight the people who have helped us to create a better world for sloths!

Doing science with the community

We believe that engaging local communities in wildlife conservation efforts are critical for the success of projects. Not only are these people the ones that depend on the local environment, but due to their proximity and unrivaled knowledge of wildlife, they are also well placed to participate in conservation efforts.

 

From tree-cutter to tree-connecter

This is Adolfo Gimenez, a.k.a. “Gallo”, our tree climber and Sloth Crossing installer! Gallo used to work as a tree surgeon – trimming and cutting down trees, but now he spends his days working with Team Sloth to reconnect the rainforest with artificial wildlife bridges!

A story of hardship and resilience

Although protecting sloths may seem like a narrow focus, conservation involves the whole community, often in unexpected ways. In the video below, Diego, our forest nursery manager, tells us his story during this complicated year.

 

Together we have managed to achieve remarkable things for sloths in 2020!

While this year continues to present us with unforeseen challenges, here in Costa Rica we are more focused than ever on our mission to safeguard a future for sloths. Our shared compassion and determination are giving us the strength and motivation to battle on through these difficult times.  

This is an important day for non-profit organizations everywhere, and we wanted to personally take this opportunity to let you know how much your support means to us.

We couldn’t do any of this without your kindness and generosity, so thank you for helping us to make 2020 a truly wonderful year for sloth conservation! Join us on Team Sloth and we will double these achievements (and more!) in 2021!

 

giving tuesday sloths

 

 

10 Perfect Gifts For People Who Love Sloths

Looking for the perfect gift for the sloth lover in your life?

Look no further for sloth gift ideas – we have you covered! Our selection of sloth-themed Gifts that Give Back are available for international delivery and with proceeds going to support our sloth conservation efforts – it’s a double win.

 

1. Adopt-A-Sloth (from $25 / £20) 

 

adopt a sloth

 

We are offering ‘VIRTUAL‘ and ‘PHYSICAL‘ sloth adoption packages – perfect as a gift!

In exchange for a donation, we will send you a full personalized adoption goodie bag either via email (virtual) or in the mail (physical) including:

  • Personalized adoption certificate.
  • Full biography and history profile for your chosen sloth.
  • High-resolution photograph 
  • Two original sloth illustrations (virtual only).
  • Copy of the bestselling sloth book “Life in the Slow Lane” by Dr. Rebecca Cliffe and Suzi Eszterhas (physical only).

Click here to choose your sloth now!

 

“The adoption package arrived today. Thank you SO much, my daughter is going to love it! The quality far exceeds my expectations and the book is just beautiful. Perfect for bedtime reading!” -Claire Johnson. UK

“The adoption package is great, better than I expected! We looked into many “adoption” options for our sloth-obsessed niece and, as an animal behaviorist myself, I was so pleased to see that we would be supporting such wonderful conservation efforts with your organization.” -Anne Farrell, Australia 

 

2. VIP sloth membership (from $25 / £20) 

 

adopt a sloth subscribe VIP

 

By joining our VIP community your support will be going beyond your donation. You will be having a powerful impact on the way we work, allowing us to plan ahead for long-term solutions and to invest in bigger projects.

Aside from the warm, fuzzy feeling that you will get knowing that you are contributing to the ongoing protection of sloths, we will also send you a monthly virtual goody bag of sloth-themed surprises.

Join our sloth VIP community!

3. SLOTHS 2022 wall calendar ($14.99 / £10.99)

 

sloth calendar 2022 gift

 

 

Channel your inner sloth and ease into 2021 with the ultimate sloth calendar!

Each month features spectacular photographs of sloths paired with exclusive “behind the scenes” captions. Five different species of sloth are showcased, including swimming pygmy sloths and the maned sloths of Brazil!

The imagery is accompanied by fun sloth facts, written by world sloth expert and SloCo founder Dr. Rebecca Cliffe. Each month also includes a wide-open grid with plenty of space to jot down all of those special dates and anniversaries, and it is complemented by the inclusion of a 12-month yearly planner. This 12” x 12” inspiring calendar is guaranteed to brighten your day!

 

sloth calendar

 

 

“My granddaughter was so excited when she opened the package on Christmas. I didn’t know, but (out of several sloth calendars), this was the exact one she wanted. Apparently, this 64 year old girl and that 12 year old girl were both drawn to the essence of gentleness and coziness that this practical item captures.” -GrannyFran, US

“I ordered last year and needed to again this year! sloth lover – excellent pictures too!” – Julie, UK

 

4. SLOTHS: Life in the Slow Lane book ($25 / £20)

 

sloth book gift

 

This stunning coffee-table style book takes readers on an immersive journey through the jungles of South America to discover the secret lives of sloths! The story is illustrated through spectacular imagery capturing some of the most intimate and rarely seen moments, while the narrative provides fascinating insights into the previously unknown habits of these unusual animals!

 

best sloth book

 

If you love sloths you need this book! The photos are amazing and it’s packed full of interesting information, even as a sloth lover I learned loads of new facts!”

GORGEOUS and unusual coffee table book. Great gift for friends, family members, travelers, wildlife enthusiasts, students, and of course – sloth lovers!”

 

5. Sponsor a Sloth Crossing ($200 / £150)

 

This donation will buy the raw materials needed to construct a full single-rope canopy bridge to help sloths travel safely across roads and between forest fragments in urban areas.

If you sponsor a Sloth Crossing then we will install a personalized wooden plaque next to the bridge engraved with a name of your choice (this would make a fantastic gift for any sloth lover)! With your bridge sponsorship, we will email an information pack as well as photos and the GPS location of the finished bridge and plaque after installation. We will also notify you when wildlife start using your sponsored bridge!

 

 

“I’m not sure there is another example of a conservation effort with such instant gratification! My background is wildlife biology, environmental law/policy, and animal welfare. In my 20+ years working in those fields, I have never seen such a simple, yet effective way to immediately mitigate habitat loss. Kudos to all involved!” -Michelle Land, New York

 

6. Sponsor a camera trap

If you sponsor a camera trap we will send you a GPS location of where your camera trap is installed, and we will also send you any interesting videos or photographs that your camera captures of animals using the Sloth Crossing bridge. Not only can you have fun trying to identify the different species, but you will also be able to see first-hand the impact of your donation and the animals that are benefiting from our conservation efforts.

 

trap camera

 

7.’Hang in There’ Canvas Sloth Tote Bag ($17 /£13)

 

sloth tote bag gift

 

Get rid of all the plastic and show off your love for sloths with this spacious natural canvas tote bag designed exclusively to benefit sloth conservation!

 

8. Sponsor sloth-friendly trees

 

sloth gifts

 

By planting sloth-friendly trees through our reforestation program in Costa Rica, you can provide a safe habitat for sloths, protect biodiversity and help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It’s a triple win!

You can make a custom donation to plant a particular number of trees, and we will choose tree species that are favored by wild sloths for you! We will then plant them in key conservation areas where habitat loss is threatening the survival of sloths.  If you sponsor some trees as a gift, we can send a gift certificate, information packet, and photos of the trees on request (just send us an email after your purchase)!

 

9. Protect 20 square meters of primary rainforest for sloths ($50 / £38)

 

sloth gifts

 

Habitat loss from the destruction of trees is the greatest threat to the survival of sloths. 100% of your donation will go towards purchasing and protecting threatened primary rainforest habitat in the South Caribbean region (Limón) of Costa Rica where sloth populations are suffering. If this is a gift, we can send a gift certificate and information packet on request (just send us an email after your purchase)!

10. Sloth Activity Booklet (FREE!)

 

sloth book children

 

We have launched a range of sloth activity booklets that use fun facts, activities, and puzzles to help children learn all about sloths and wildlife conservation. It is perfect for use with school groups, or just as a way to keep your child entertained for hours! We currently offer two downloadable PDF versions of the booklet: one for preschool children and one for ages 8-10. The booklets are available in both English and Spanish.

Celebrating International Sloth Day!

Celebrating International Sloth Day!

Taking a lazy day to stay in your PJs seems like a fitting way to celebrate the world’s slowest moving mammal. However, International Sloth Day (October 20th) is more than an excuse to take it easy,  it is a day to recognize an important member of tropical ecosystems.

three-fingered three-toed sloth hanging smiling

Why celebrate sloths?

Sloths play an important role in tropical forest ecosystems. Scientists estimate in a healthy tropical forest, sloths should make up a significant percentage of all the mammals living in the forest (in terms of biomass). In other words, sloths are meant to be common.

Like the herbivores of the savannah, sloths are the grazers of tropical ecosystems, playing an important role in the cycling of resources throughout the forest. Having successfully survived on Planet Earth for almost 64 million years they form an important part of the food chain for ocelots, jaguars and harpy eagles.

three-fingered three-toed sloth eating leaves
Pale-throated sloth (Bradypus tridactylus) eats a cecropia leaf, a type of tree that forms a significant part of the sloth’s diet/Photo: Suzi Eszterhas

Protecting sloths and the habitat in which they live ultimately benefits a whole host of other species, from poison dart frogs to Great Green Macaws. Not all species, such as velvet worms, receive the same kind of attention and love that sloths receive. Conserving sloths leads to the protection of these lesser known species and the preservation of the beautifully complex ecosystems they are a part of.

Sloths remind us to slow down

In addition to keeping our forests healthy, sloths inspire us to slow down. They are a valuable antidote to fast-paced digital world we live in. Like the classic story of the tortoise versus the hare, sloths are living examples that there are many ways to be “successful” in this world.

Because of their laid-back lifestyle, they have become an emblem of the “pura vida” lifestyle in Costa Rica. They are also a symbol of the tourism industry in Costa Rica, since they embody the spirit of vacation.

sloths sleeping in trees two-fingered two-toed three-fingered three-toed
Sloths have earned the undeserved reputation of being the “laziest” animals in the animal kingdom. They sleep an average of only 8-10 hours a day – the same as humans!/Photos: Suzi Eszterhas

Sloths are in trouble

Sloths are perfectly designed for a quiet, solitary life in the canopy of the rainforest. However, their rainforest home becomes more fragmented and degraded with each passing day.

In the South Caribbean of Costa Rica (where we are based) we get daily notifications of sloths getting stranded in unlikely places, from busy roads to restaurants. It is clear indicator of the pressure we are putting on them and their forest homes.

three-fingered three-toed sloth crawling on ground
Crossing on the ground is a difficult and dangerous process for sloths./Photo: Suzi Eszterhas

Celebrating sloth day with Team Sloth

The good news is that you don’t have to get out of your PJ’s to celebrate sloth day. This year we will be offering a variety of virtual events that you can tune into from your sofa! From Slow Flow Sloth Yoga to a live Q&A session, we hope that sloths bring you some tranquility and inspiration during this trying year. Remember to take a breath, take a sloth nap, the world will look a bit better after some rest.

baby three-fingered three-toed sloth snuggling mother
Did you know that a group of sloths is called a “snuggle“?/Photo: Suzi Eszterhas

 

-Katra Laidlaw

The HANG IN THERE Challenge

Let’s be honest – 2020 is turning out to be an extra-ordinary year for all of the wrong reasons. It has been mentally and financially tough for individuals and organizations everywhere. Now, more than ever before, it feels like we are all just ‘hanging in there’ until life can get back to normal.

In response to the hard-times, we are excited to launch the Hang In There Challenge as a way to have some fun, spread positivity and highlight the sloth’s surprising superpowers – all while hopefully raising some funds to support our sloth conservation efforts!

 

How long can you ‘hang’ like a sloth for?

Nothing complicated – just holding onto a bar with your hands and dangling.  Technically this straightforward maneuver is called the ‘dead hang‘, and you might be surprised by how difficult it is! Very few people are able to hang on for longer than 1 minute, and the dead hang world record is only 13 minutes 52 seconds!

‘Hanging on’ is the sloth’s secret weapon. You might think that the only thing a sloth can do for a prolonged period is sleep, but you would be mistaken (although sloths are also the undisputed nap champions of the world).

 

 

A sloth can easily dangle underneath a tree branch all day long. In fact, they often fall asleep like this! We have even watched a sloth hang from just one arm – with the elbow at a 90 degree angle – for over 15 minutes! These incredible feats of strength and stamina would make any human gymnast jealous.

Do you think you are stronger than a sloth? Are you up for the challenge? Read on to find out how you can take part and be in with a chance of winning the ultimate sloth-lovers goodie bag!

 

Take The ‘Hang In There’ Challenge:

hang in there challenge

1. Find an appropriate horizontal overhead ‘bar’ to dangle from.

This could be a pull-up bar, a climbing frame, a tree branch… get creative! Just make sure that whatever you are holding onto is secure and can support your body weight.

2. Set up your camera, or ask a friend to film you.

3. Grip the ‘bar’ with an overhand grip (palms facing away from you) and take your feet off the floor.

Keep your arms straight. Don’t adjust your grip, let go with one hand or change position.

4. Time how long you can hang in there for!

5. Upload your effort to social media (Facebook, Instagram or TikTok)

  • Make sure that you tag us in your post or story – @slothconservation
  • Use the hashtag #HangInThereChallenge
  • Nominate 3 friends to also take the challenge by tagging them in your post
Photo by Dinielle De Veyra from Pexels
Photo by Dinielle De Veyra from Pexels

The Prizes!

There are 2 awards available:

  1. The Hang In There Challenge Champion – awarded to the person who ‘hangs in there’ the longest!

  2. The Most Creative Hanger – awarded to the person who’s entry makes us smile the most!

Winners will be awarded with the ultimate sloth-lovers goodie bag! This includes a beautiful sloth book, our 2021 sloth calendar, a ‘hang in there’ tote bag, Hang In There Champion Certificate and some extra mystery surprises.

adopt a sloth

To be in with a chance of winning, you need to make a donation to support our work and upload your donation receipt to social media along with your video! The donation amount is totally up to you – we will monitor all entries and winners will be announced on the 31st October via our social media channels!

hang in there challenge

Disclaimer: please be careful when participating in this challenge (after all, sloths are very careful creatures)! While there are lots of positive health benefits to this exercise (improves strength, decompresses the spine and stretches out the upper body), you must be responsible for your own safety. Make sure you are hanging from a secure ‘bar’ that can support your body weight, and work your way up in duration to prevent injury. If you are pregnant or have back / shoulder problems, consult your doctor or a personal trainer for advice. The Sloth Conservation Foundation is not responsible for any injuries incurred while participating in this challenge!

 

Sloth-friendly tourism: How to help sloths while traveling

Sloth-friendly tourism: How to help sloths while traveling

When it comes to tourism, sloths often get the short end of the stick. Sloths are at the top of the list of animals sought after for wildlife selfies. Due to their “celebrity status” they are often crowded by adoring fans and in extreme cases used as photo props for tourists.

The good news is, there are ways to travel that can actually benefit local wildlife, including sloths! But how can you tell which businesses and hotels have actually made meaningful changes to help wildlife and which ones only appear to be “green”?

three-toed sloth with baby eating leaves
Brown-throated three-fingered sloth (Bradypus variegatus) and her less than one week old infant./Photo: Suzi Eszterhas

Introducing the Sloth Friendly Network

Thankfully, travelers coming to the South Caribbean of Costa Rica will no longer have to guess which businesses are friendly to wildlife, because we have been developing a program to address this exact issue!

The Sloth Friendly Network (SFN) is an accreditation program to help concerned travelers make informed choices by highlighting local businesses that have been doing their upmost to help wildlife in the area.

The central aim of the program is to endorse sloth friendly tourism and responsible business ownership by engaging travelers and visitors as partners in conservation.

The South Caribbean is known for its wild and beautiful beaches. It is not uncommon to be basking in the warm Caribbean Sea while you watch a sloth starting to stir after its afternoon nap, munching on beach almond trees.

Perhaps you hear a group of howler monkeys calling in the distance. These unique creatures sharing these wonderful and wild spaces with us, make the South Caribbean a truly enchanting place to be. A place whose biodiversity draws millions of tourists from all over the world each year.

two-toed sloth sleeping in beach almond tree
A two-fingered sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) dozing in a beach almond tree./Photo: Suzi Eszterhas

Developing a sloth-friendly tourism

One of our primary concerns in developing the program was whether tourists prefer organizations that support wildlife conservation. TripAdvisor conducted a study which revealed that 62% of the respondents consider the local environment when choosing a hotel, restaurant, and means of transportation and 69 percent of respondents plan to make even more eco-friendly choices on their next trip.

However, would they be willing to pay slightly more to an organization that protects wildlife? While there are some surveys that have shown that people support environmentally friendly practices such as plastic reduction, water conservation, and carbon neutral commitments, there isn’t much research on people’s opinions on wildlife conservation.

In order to determine the importance of wildlife conservation to tourists, we created a survey with two simple questions:

1. When traveling, would you be more willing to book with a hotel/tour guide that supports conservation of local wildlife over other companies?

2. Would you be willing to spend more for a hotel/tour guide that supports conservation?

A third question on demographics was added to see if any meaningful patterns emerged: “What is your age range?”

Note: There was no significant connection between age and the respondent’s answer to either of the first two questions.

This survey indicates that there is a strong preference to support organizations that help protect local wildlife. Additionally, the responses indicate that the majority of people are willing to pay more.

The results of this survey are meaningful for those in the tourism industry as it suggests that by supporting the conservation of local wildlife, they could have a competitive advantage over other companies in the area.

Reaching out to local businesses

Armed with this new knowledge, we were able to make the case to local businesses that tourists truly care about wildlife conservation and are even willing to pay more to reduce the impact of their travel.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to start from scratch because we have had the privilege of working with many local hotels and businesses through our Connected Gardens program.

These organizations have supported our sloth conservation efforts by reconnecting habitat on their properties through Sloth Crossings and reforesting and helping to educate their clients by sharing our educational materials.

faith glamping
A sample of our educational materials shared to businesses certified by the Sloth Friendly Network such as Faith Glamping./Photo: Cecilia Pamich

Our first members of the Sloth Friendly Network!

We have had the honor of working with these wonderful individuals over the past couple of years and we are proud to officially recognize them as part of the Sloth Friendly Network. As our network grows and we continue to accredit local businesses and organizations in the area, we hope that this will be a useful resource for travelers who interested in wildlife-friendly tourism.

These photos are some of the highlights from our recent visits to drop off education materials (and the certificates of course!) to these Platinum members of the Sloth Friendly Network. Thank you so much for supporting sloth conservation and making it possible to coexist with wildlife in a mutually beneficial way!

Cariblue Beach and Jungle Resort

 

sloth-friendly tourism faith glamping costa rica
Faith Glamping Dome Costa Rica

 

sloth-friendly tourism Costa Rica Annanci Village
Annanci Village – Boutique Vacation & Retreat Accomodation

 

sloth-friendly tourism Costa Rica
Colina Secreta – Glamping and Villas

 

Stay tuned as we add more businesses! And if you ever have the chance to visit the South Caribbean of Costa Rica be sure to check out these awesome places!

 

 

-Jackie Lopez and Katra Laidlaw

The dog days (are never over): Why caring for dogs helps sloths

The dog days (are never over): Why caring for dogs helps sloths

Happy International Dog day everyone! While there seems to be a day for quite literally everything right now, a day dedicated to celebrating dogs is something that is pretty important to many of us! And it makes sense that the Day of the Dog is at the end of summer.

dogs day

Have you heard of the “dog days of summer“? Well Dog Day is right in the middle of them! To the Greeks and Romans, the “dog days” began when the dog star, Sirius, could be seen rising just before the sun came up.”Dog days” are traditionally the hot, sultry days of summer which are known for heat, thunderstorms, lethargy, mad dogs and bad luck. Sounds about right!

dogs with toy sloth on head
Photo credit: Two Traveling Dogs

But how on earth do dogs relate to sloths?

Well, more than you’d think. Now this isn’t going to be an article all about how bad dogs are (we are all big dog lovers over here at Team Sloth) but the fact remains that dogs are the second leading cause of death for sloths in the wild. In fact, they have contributed to the extinction of 11 wild species and kill thousands of animals every year, all over the world.

orphan baby sloths
Many orphaned sloths arrive at rescue centers because their mothers were killed during dog attacks./Photo: Suzi Eszterhas

Stray dogs are often the cause of these sloth attacks, with over a million stray dogs wandering the streets of Costa Rica.

Leash laws vary by country but even where it is illegal to have a dog off the leash (like in Costa Rica for example), many people allow their animals to roam, unsupervised, with no repercussions. Unfortunately, the animals that suffer the repercussions are wild animals, like sloths.

Ultimately this is not the dog’s fault, as they naturally have predator instincts. Certain breeds in particular have a very high prey drive. However, it is up to the owner to properly train and supervise their canine companions to prevent the injury and ultimate extinction of local wildlife species.

How can we prevent dogs from attacking wildlife?

In the South Caribbean we have implemented a program to help control stray dog populations with our “Oh My Dog” initiative!

In this project we sponsor the spaying and neutering of stray dogs (or for families that cannot afford it) as well as promote the responsible ownership of domestic animals. Other ways that we help to protect sloths from dogs include:

  • Building canopy bridges to prevent the sloths from having to come to the ground.
  • Planting trees to bridge gaps in the canopy.
  • Promoting adopting or rescuing dogs over buying a dog.
three fingered sloth using canopy rope bridge
Sloth crossing canopy bridges help prevent dog attacks by providing a safe way for wildlife, like sloths, to navigate properties without having to come to the ground./Photo: Foforo (Yorjes Salazar Elizondo)

These are measures that we have already implemented in the South Caribbean of Costa Rica, but they are important worldwide.

5 tips for dog owners that care about wildlife

Aside from reducing stray dog populations, all dog owners can help protect wildlife by training their dog! We have compiled some top tips for you to help prevent your pet from causing wild animal deaths, wherever you may be.

BONUS: Training is a great bonding opportunity for you and your pets!

Tip 1: Supervise your pet

Always make sure that you are watching your animal (especially at night) and check the yard before letting them out. If that is not possible, or your pet needs to be outside, use a long line or tether to make sure they are unable to reach wild animals.

dogs sloths
Photo by Dids from Pexels

Tip 2: Use brightly coloured collars

Use brightly coloured collars and/or collars with a bell to alert wildlife to their presence.

Colorful Birdsbesafe® cat collars have shown to reduce bird mortality by 87%./Photo: Birdsbesafe®

Tip 3: Teach your dog how to come when called

This training tip not only helps to ensure the safety of wildlife but is an incredibly valuable tool to keep your dog out of harm’s way.

Tip 4: Teach your dog to stop or stay

Like learning how to come when called, learning to stop or stay is another great way to ensure the safety of wildlife and your pet.

Tip 5: Stop dog aggression

Aggression can often get in the way of you having a good time with your canine pal. Here are some tips for curbing some of those aggressive instincts!

For more awesome training techniques on how to prevent your dog from attacking other animals, check out this helpful website!

Dog running through grass chase small animals
https://wagwalking.com/training/not-kill-small-animals/

 

 

5 fun facts for dog day!

Now that we’ve gotten the training out of the way, here are 5 fun facts about dogs in honor of International Dog Day!

  1. Dogs have wet noses because the moisture helps to trap air particles helping them to smell better! Does wetting your nose make a difference? Give it a shot!
  2. Three dogs survived the sinking of the Titanic! Remember watching that film and thinking all the dogs probably didn’t survive? Well three did! They were all small dogs (like a Pomeranian puppy) and were smuggled on the lifeboat. Sorry Jack.
  3. The Beatles song ‘A Day in the Life’ has a frequency in it that only dogs can hear.
  4. A Bloodhound’s sense of smell can be used as evidence in a court of law.
  5. The most successful hunter in the world is actually a dog – The African Wild Dog’s hunts are successful 80% of the time which makes them the most successful land mammalian predator in the world – they even hold a Guinness World Record for it!

Interested in supporting our efforts to protect sloths by helping dogs?

Currently we fund the spaying and neutering of dogs on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica in conjunction with two other great organisations: Puerto Viejo Dogs & Clinica Vetenario: Dr Arroyo y Dr Solano. Puerto Viejo Dogs rescues dogs from the streets, or ones taken by the government in abuse cases, and they fund the care for injured and/or sick dogs and cats. They also foster animals for adoption and so much more. They work with a wonderful veterinary clinic here, Clinica Vetenario: Dr Arroyo y Dr Solano, who spend their spare time providing free care to animals in need.

Both are amazing organisations in the South Caribbean and the animals here are so lucky to have them (follow them online to see more of their amazing work). To protect sloths while caring for dogs, we assist with the costs of spaying/neutering which can range from $30-$50 per animal. To continue helping the animals of the area and to help us assist even MORE animals you can join us by donating to the Oh My Dog project or sponsoring a spay/neuter for an animal in need here! Helping sloths, by helping dogs!

Helping Sloths By Helping Dogs

Sarah Kennedy
Director of Education & Outreach