As much as we love sloths and want to be near their cuteness, it’s important not to buy into popular US “sloth experience” attractions.
Wildlife does not belong in captivity, period. This includes sloths, no matter how docile or “tame” they may seem to be.
Sloths are objectively cute animals: their long shaggy fur, their arms curved as if about to give a hug, their sleepy eyes fixed attentively on you. There are plenty of “sloth experiences” across the US that take advantage of this cuteness, marketing it to you as the sloth wanting to be close to you. What could be better than a sloth hug? The only problem is that sloths are still wild animals, and don’t want to be near you.
It’s easy to pick out the obviously exploitative sloth experiences in the US. An “animal sanctuary” in Louisiana, for example, offers a “sip wine with sloths” experience that is a bad idea from start to finish. Sloths should not be handled by humans, and introducing alcohol to the equation only makes things worse. Similar experiences, including sloth yoga, have negative impacts on sloths and humans alike for obvious reasons: humans should not be that close to wildlife, especially not in a confined environment. But do you know how sloths are affected by seemingly “good” sloth encounters like educational sloth experiences?
Wildlife does not belong in captivity, period. This includes sloths, no matter how docile or “tame” they may seem to be. Just because they move slowly and look like they are smiling does not mean they want to interact with you. “Educational” sloth experiences still rely on animal exploitation and human contact, both of which are dangerous for the animal and human alike. Human handling of wildlife can result in injury to the animal and can even pass zoonotic diseases from the animal to the human.
If you love sloths, try seeing them in their natural habitat where they belong. Check out this post on finding properly accredited sanctuaries at which to see your favorite animal from a suitable distance. Remember: if the wildlife experience includes physical contact with the animal, whether that be a sloth or a monkey or a snake, it’s a bad experience for everyone involved.