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Monday, May 20, 2024

Slo-mo-sapiens

We love sloths. We know — it’s basic. It’s predictable. But we loved them way before they started appearing on mugs and socks (although we proudly own those, too). What sets us apart from these other self-proclaimed ‘sloth-luvrs’ is that our obsession runs deeper. Sloths have affected the way we move (slower) and sleep (more). Sometimes we’ll see them in our dreams or hear them in the trees. Basically, what we’re trying to say is that we love sloths more than you do, and this op-ed will not only prove that, but it will also make you oh-so-informed about sloths and their perfection. 

Like many other Middlebury students, we decided to take the semester off during the spring of 2021. What ultimately convinced us to take a leave of absence was a once-in-a-lifetime program we found online. For two months, we lived in Costa Rica, and for half of our time there we worked at an animal rescue center and sloth sanctuary. 

On our first night, during our very short walk from the gate to our room, we suddenly stood face to face with the world’s most beautiful creature. His name was Leon. The majestic two-toed sloth slowly but surely made his way to find a spot for his weekly poo. While this was a sloth sanctuary, Leon wasn’t a “member,” per se — he hadn’t been rescued. He simply chose to live there. And, instead of choosing one of the many sloth-friendly trees to set up camp, he often resided on top of the nearby bird aviary. A silly choice for a silly fella. 

The day we met Leon was the day our lives truly began. We cried happy tears because we knew that for the next month, our days would revolve around sloths––feeding them, cleaning up their poop, designing enrichment activities, bottle-feeding the babies and taking them to their mini jungle gym. 

During our time in paradise, we kept a running list of every sloth fact we learned while we were there. Here are some of our favorites: 

  1. They eat dirt for minerals. They literally stick their faces into the ground and munch. 

  2. When they are on the prowl for a sexual partner, a white milky substance comes out of their noses and eyes. 

  3. They sweat out of their noses. 

  4. Two-toed and three-toed sloths are as genetically different from each other as cats and dogs. 

  5. Two-toed sloths actually have three toes, but only two fingers. 

  6. They have tiny human-like ears that hide beneath their fur and they are the most absurdly cute things in the world. 

  7. They can’t burp. We hope this doesn’t make their stomachs hurt. 

  8. Their teeth turn black from all the leaves they eat. Skinny legends. 

  9. Their most developed sense is their smell. 

  10. They see better at night. This explains Leon’s late-night escapades. 

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these fascinating creatures that have defied evolution and live happily in slow motion. Come find us to learn more, as sloths are (obviously) our favorite thing to talk about. 

Our time at the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center was the best of our lives. If you’re passionate about something, we encourage you to indulge to the fullest extent possible. Leaning into our infatuation with sloths has undoubtedly made us happier people. We love sloths 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Not everything has to be in moderation.


Bella Burke

Bella Burke '23.5 (she/her) is an Opinions Editor. 

Bella studies Political Science with minors in Spanish and History. She has also served as Yoga Club President for the past four years. 


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