The Sloth Captive Husbandry Center in Rainier, Oregon is home to the world’s largest population of captive adult sloths. The facility claims to be a sanctuary and, as such, plays an “important” and “needed” role for the species – but the facts point to something very different. Unfortunately, despite their shortcomings in terms of animal welfare, the center continues to be promoted by TripAdvisor, whose animal welfare policy keeps on failing the very animals it should be protecting.
The Sloth Center gained some popularity last year after it announced its new attraction, “sloth sleepovers.” As a Care2 petition launched in the case explains, the facility describes itself as a “Zoological Wildlife Conservation Center” that is a “highly specialized endangered and delicate species Wildlife Conservation Center” focused on “captive husbandry research” of sloths. In reality, many visitors and animal advocates have criticized the organization and come out against its operations for a number of concerning reasons.
The owners of the center have a history of illegally selling sloths and other exotic animals to the black market via illegal websites. Most of the animals they resell will be used in such facilities as roadside attractions or zoos. The USDA has already cited the owners for inhumane animal conditions that could harm the animals.
Not to mention, Oregon is not an appropriate location for sloths to live in. Those animals are meant to live in the rainforests of Central and South America. The organization claims to provide a home for sloths that are displaced, but bringing those animals to Oregon, to house them in temperature-controlled rooms, is not a good idea at all. Displaced sloths should rather be relocated to forest reserves or in-country rescue centers where they can be rehabilitated and, eventually, released back into the wild. Moreover, the species that the center is breeding – the two-toed sloth – is not considered to be endangered.
Needlessly keeping sloths in captivity for breeding is simply cruel to the animals. It has been found that sloths are slower when they live in captivity – a sure sign that they are not happy and comfortable. They also sleep for 15 to 20 hours per day, while sloths in the wild sleep about as much as humans do.
Finally, the so-called research center does not really conduct research – for 30 years, the center has had hundreds of sloths in captivity, yet there is no published article online of their research findings.
Taken from the wild, sold around the world, and used for entertainment and as pets, sloths do need protection and our help – but The Sloth Center is not offering that help at all. TripAdvisor only makes it easier to find the place and offer the owners even more money to keep on the business. Sadly, the website remains an advertising channel for facilities exploiting animals for human entertainment, its animal welfare policy still failing.
Click here to sign the petition for TripAdvisor to stop supporting the sloth “sanctuary!”
Image source: katja/Pixabay