Why The World Has Fallen In Love With Sloths

<p>SergioDelgado / <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdelgado/3433299832/" target="_blank">Flickr</a> (<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/" target="_blank">CC BY 2.0</a>)</p>

First it was the lolcats, then came the bald eagles; now make way for the advent of the sloth. Sloths have fast become an online sensation, and it's not expected to end any time soon, with plenty of sloth lovers heading to volunteer in places like the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Project to interact with these slow moving creatures. But how did this start? A few pivotal moments of internet history explain the rise of the sloth image.

Photo: Frontier Costa Rica
  • "Ice Age": The 2002 animated film featured a ground sloth called Sid - a lovable character that won the hearts of children and adults alike.
  • "I believe I can fly" Youtube clip: A video released of a sloth crossing the road back in 2011 gave birth to an internet frenzy of sloth content
  • Kirsten Bell: In 2012, actress Kirsten Bell appeared the Ellen DeGeneres show and talked about her obsession with the cute creature, sending the social media world into a sloth spin.
  • "The Croods": Dreamworks released the film "The Croods," paving the sloth's path to pop culture domination.

There is also various sloth appreciation and conservation organizations such as The Sloth Sanctuary and Slothville which work to educate, research and care for the animal species. Not only are people engaging with sloths via social media, they are embracing the stereotypical lazy personality of the sloth. WikiHow has published an article on how to become a sloth, including advice on how to weave sloths into conversation, how to draw sloths and how to adopt one. It brings to mind the relationship between animals on the big screen and pop culture, which ultimately raises the question of whether the combination of animals and fame does more to raise awareness of animal rights or entrench these practices.

Photo: Frontier Costa Rica

PETA has long campaigned for the rights of animals exploited for the benefit of television, entertainment and advertising industries. Unlike humans, no ape, dog, tiger - or sloth - dreams of a career in show biz. A simple Google search of the term "animal actors" will produce a plethora of companies offering animals ranging from ants to big cats to suit your production needs. With the advent of technologies such as animation, computer-generated imagery and animatronics, there is no reason why live animals should be subjected to a life of performance.

Photo: Frontier Costa Rica

On a lighter note, I leave you with some interesting facts about your new best friend:

  • They are psychologically build to hang.
  • On average, sloths spend approximately six seconds mating.
  • They only go to the bathroom once a week.
  • Instinctively, sloths are friendly in nature - especially the three-fingered breed.

By Lucy Johnston Do you love sloths? Then go and work with them on this project - Costa Rica Animal Rescue Project - where you'll work at a center dedicated to the care and conservation of some of Costa Rica's most threatened species.

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