2° International Sloth Festival 2022, Costa Rica
Last year we launched the first-ever International Sloth Festival. In spite of some rough beginnings and the remnants of Covid restrictions, we had a lot more people than we expected and the event itself was awesome!
This year we decided to go even bigger. We teamed up with the locally owned Wolaba Productions and worked with the amazing staff of our host venue, Selina Puerto Viejo, to bring you the second International Sloth Festival 2022: bigger, better, and even more inspired!
A perfect place
The location was everything we could have asked for the festival: a beautiful patch of forest near the beach, right next to Luna and Luiza’s territory, with a very appropriate sculpture of a sloth already in place. The weather was wet the day before (because, you know, rainforest) but Saturday dawned fair and blue, and we arrived by 7 am to set up tables, tents, booths, signs, and the hundred other little details needed for an epic day.
Imagine what a pleasant surprise it was to discover that our first guests were not our enthusiastic human supporters, but several sloths themselves! Four of our slow, furry friends joined us for a festival in their honor and supervised the arrival of our vendors, artisans, and fellow conservation organizations by 9 am.
The Sloth Festival 2022 begins
By 10 am we had our first (human) visitors. Participants from all over the world came to celebrate with us! In addition to everyone from Costa Rica, we had people from countries as diverse as Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Mexico, the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, and more!
In total the Sloth Festival received more than 400 guests this year. Everyone was delighted by our resident sloths, who were for some participants the first sloths they had ever seen!
The highlights of the Festival
Suzi Eszterhas exhibition
Our much-celebrated trustee and awarded photographer Suzi Eszterhas presented a carefully curated selection of pictures in her exhibition “The Lives of Urban Sloths”. These 10 stunning photographs depict sloths found in the most dangerous, inconvenient, or simply bizarre locals; usually driven there by habitat disturbance, deforestation, or urbanization. Sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing, and always moving, her work captures the reality of how urgently sloths need our help.
Connected Gardens + Community Conservation chat
Connected Gardens manager Francisco Rodríguez opened up the 11 am Q&A about the importance of habitat connectivity. He talked about how we can use reforestation and sloth crossings to enable canopy connectivity, the importance of community conservation, and the involvement of social movements in protecting the habitats of wild creatures.
“Saving sloths together”, Toucan Rescue Ranch talk
Speaking of epic, our colleagues from the Toucan Rescue Ranch drove SEVEN HOURS from the other side of Costa Rica, braving dangerous mountain roads and crazy traffic to join us at Sloth Fest. The TRR is a rescue and rehabilitation center that works with many animals, including sloths. Their education coordinator Stephanie Valle Cubero and sloth veterinarian Andrés Sáenz Bräutigam gave a wonderful presentation about their sloth rescue, rehabilitation, and release program.
The Urban Sloth Project talk
Against the very appropriate backdrop of “The Lives of Urban Sloths” exhibition, USP lead José Guzman gave a wonderful overview of the Urban Sloth Project and why we need to study the boundaries of urban/wilderness areas, and the lives of the sloths that call these frontiers home.
Salsa Brava to Cocles guided walk
One of the most unique presentations at the Second International Sloth Festival was a guided walk along the Brava-Cocles trail, a footpath that runs along the beach in front of the festival (and right through Luna and Luiza’s territories!)
This path used to be the only link between the scattered communities of this area of the South Caribbean, until the comparatively recent addition of the road in the 90’s. In this 30-minute tour, Francisco explained the importance of the trail and pointed out the many animals that can be seen in the shady canopy above, including several sloths!
Searching for sloths with Jose
Everyone loves sloths, and everyone loves radio antennas! People of every age got the chance to become sloth scientists for a day and learn how we use VHF radio equipment to monitor sloths in the USP. For this demonstration, José took groups of sloth science enthusiasts to monitor Luna and Luiza while explaining the methodology and science behind the Urban Sloth project. He also gave them a few pro tips that we’ve learned in the year or more that we’ve been tracking Luna.
Kukula Kids’ Club
What would a festival dedicated to conservation be without a space for the people who will inherit that future? Our Kids’ Corner (a.k.a. Kukula Kids’ Club) was set up with a variety of games, an art space for exploring creativity, a photo booth, a photo workshop exhibition with Girls Who Click, and of course our famous mascot Siesta.
Kassandra also took the kids on a sloth search using our radio equipment and tracked down a stuffed sloth we had hidden earlier. Here come some future sloth scientists!
Scat Dog demonstration
SloCo’s newest project, the groundbreaking Sloth Census using a scat detection dog, was also debuted for the festival! Tamara took our SSD dog Keysha out for a demonstration of her olfactory skills. To show how well she was able to find sloth poop, Keysha not only tracked down the correct training blocks with sloth poop hidden inside them, but she also tracked down some wild sloth scat for us! Go Keysha!
Soon now we’ll be able to conduct the first-ever accurate sloth population census, which we anticipate will have huge effects on the science and policy of sloth conservation.
Puppies to adopt!
Dogs that don’t know how to interact with sloths are unfortunately one of the main reasons sloths are hurt and end up in rescue centers. Of course, we love dogs and want them to get along with wildlife, so we work with Puerto Viejo Dogs to promote responsible ownership and help fund spay and neuter clinics to help reduce the stray dog population.
Puerto Viejo Dogs also helps adopt out puppies in need of families, and we are happy to say that two of the three puppies they brought to the Sloth Festival found homes that very day!
Local Market and freebies
There are so many amazing artists in the Puerto Viejo area! We were proud to be able to offer a venue for some of our local artists and crafts makers: indigenous handcrafts, bags, jewelry, homemade chocolate and cakes, art pieces, and even hair braiding! The perfect gift, accessory or souvenir, everything had that unique flair of the South Caribbean.
Additionally, our Connected Gardens project was there giving away free stickers, postcards, and tree saplings to anyone who wanted to promote sloth conservation and make their property more sloth friendly.
We have achieved Sloth Crossing n° 200! At 4:30 in the afternoon, our pro climber Dayber went up and installed our 200th bridge right here on the Sloth Fest property at Selina! It was a great accomplishment for us to reach this important milestone on the Sloth Crossing Project, and it was really special to be able to share this moment with everyone at the festival and our sloth community.
The great sloth raffle
Every year we have a fundraiser to put together our Sloth Raffle with more than 20 unique, interesting, and downright useful prizes! From art pieces to professional photo sessions, to an excursion for two to go rafting in one of the most scenic rivers of the world, this year we sold 326 tickets and raised $ 640!
Live music and shows
Conservation and education don’t have to be dire and dry, the Sloth Festival 2022 turned on the beat and got down to boogie with DJ Cassia, who kept us going with his tribal tropical techno, and we finished off with Music of Guarumo, a local band with a more than appropriate name for a Sloth Festival, as guarumos are one of the main trees eaten by three-fingered sloths! The music of the Guarumo was accompanied by the girls of Fyre Space, who provided an astounding fire dance show.
The Sloth Festival is not only a place to celebrate and raise awareness about the world’s slowest mammals, but it is also a space for local organizations, conservationists, and social groups to connect and share experiences. After all, we’re stronger together, and we know that working side by side with other organizations is the way to protect wildlife and communities.
Also at the festival this year were:
Ara Manzanillo – A project dedicated to the protection and reintroduction of the great green macaw, a highly endangered parrot with only 1500 individuals left in the wild.
Turtle Rescue Cahuita – An organization that promotes the protection and survival of sea turtles and local native wildlife.
El Puente – A social organization dedicated to assisting indigenous communities with education and supplies. They are our partners with the Kukula Kids’ Club!
Asociación Talamanqueña de Ecoturismo y Conservación ATEC – A non-profit agency that provides responsible tourism work with local tour guides.
Coral Conservation – An organization located in the southern Caribbean of Costa Rica with the aim of protecting, preserving, and restoring the coral reef in the area.
Puerto Viejo Dogs and Talamanca Cats – Another animal relief effort dedicated to the responsible adoption of dogs and cats.
One Love Children Foundation – an organization that helps local children.
Planet Conservation – A conservation organization dedicated to recycling, education, social issues, and wildlife conservation.
Tucan Rescue Ranch – One of the biggest and more famous rescue facilities in the country, TRCC rescues, rehabilitates, and releases injured wildlife.
A great Slothtober and Sloth Festival 2022
Without a doubt, this was the greatest Slothtober we’ve ever had! Streamers, gamers, content creators, organizations, partners, colleagues, sloth lovers, and supporters, everybody came together to celebrate sloths, and we couldn’t ask for more.
Thank you to everybody who made the Second International Sloth Festival an out of the park success－we can’t wait to see you next year!
And finally, a special thanks to our sponsors who participated with donations or raffle prizes: Exploradores Outdoors, Sloth Toes, La Costa de Papito, UP House Costa Rica, Santa Marea, Life Culture Travel Etnotourism, Namuwoki Lodge, Cariblue Beach and Resort, Geckoes Lodge, Playa 506, La Kukula Lodge, Casas del Caribe, Tasty Waves, Madre Selva Hostel, AmaSer Yoga, Biriba Cocles, Reggae Roots CR, Vector 4 impresiones, Libreria Caribe, Cho.co, Blue Youth, Reggaeland, Pura Bali, Jungle Cuts by Erica, Heladeria 8 nanni, Café Rio Negro, Samoa Boutique, CaribeArtCR, Passion Fruit, Curry Kingdom, One Love Wolaba.