Every day, millions of  animals are left to fend for themselves in the wild, without their mothers. But it’s not because their mothers aren’t amazing; instead, it’s because of the human encroachment that pervades these beings’ lives and leaves them orphaned. Human encroachment comes in all forms – from deforestation to the illegal pet trade to interference with tourists – and young sloths are particularly susceptible to a difficult life without their mothers.

In Costa Rica’s rainforests, these realities are ever-present for sloths. That’s why Sam Trull decided to start The Sloth Institute Costa Rica.


“I co-founded The Sloth Institute because I wanted to spend all of my energy and time getting my hand-raised babies back into the jungle,” she said.

Sloths, like us, are completely dependent on their mothers for survival for up to three years. Sloth babies hang on to their mothers for the first six months of their life, clinging to them day and night.

They learn everything they need to survive from their mother –  which leaves to eat – and which not to, where the edible trees are located, and where to find shelter.

But if they lose their mother to the daily threats that endanger sloths’ existence, they, too, are left to die.

Babies are often tied up next to the carcasses of their dead family members whose bodies will be sold as “bushmeat.” Many are not even weaned and are too young to survive without their mothers.


But with Trull’s sanctuary, we hope that these orphaned sloths can re-enter their homes, stronger, more knowledgeable, and able to live out their lives in the wild.

“People can help by being responsible tourists,” Trull’s said. “When visiting a country with sloths, never pay to take a picture with one, hold one or pet one.” Following Trull’s advice means respecting nature and all of its inhabitants.

C’mon – just one look into this sloth’s lil’ face will convince you that we’ve got to do everything we can to fight for them!




If you’d like to learn more about Trull’s amazing work, visit the Sloth Institute Costa Rica’s website, and consider making a virtual donation to support these adorable babies!

All Image Source: Primatography