Puerto Limón, Costa Rica

                                                                Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary

January 9, 2010

Puerto Limón was a return trip for us.  We had both done the Tortuguera Canal trip on our first visit, but were still interested in learning about the wildlife of the area.  So we chose a visit to the Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary, which included a jungle canoe ride.  When we arrived at the sanctuary, the first order of business was a walk through the jungle (on a well-defined path).  Our first wildlife sighting was a dog, who apparently regularly escorts tour groups.  We learned that the Panamá hat “palm” is actually in the same family as philodendrons - those ubiquitous house plants.  We learned something about the venomous snakes of the area, and our guide also instructed us on some natural remedies.  He was quite knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the area.

It was interesting to watch and learn about the sloths.  The two-fingered and three-fingered are really not closely related at all.  But both are related to the armadillo.

This photo is of Spiderman, a six-year-old two-finger sloth, who still sucks his fingers!  The photo at the top with Susan is of Buttercup, who is a 3-finger sloth.  The coloration of each type is distinctive.  The male 3-fingered sloth may be distinguished by the yellow patch on its back. 

We learned that sloths are very clean animals, and they have a very slow metabolism, which makes them essentially cold-blooded, like reptiles.  They come down out of the trees only once a week to perform their bodily functions.  In the wild they have algae growing on their backs, and have flightless moths in their fur which keep the algae under control.  The moths lay their eggs in the sloth dung when the sloths descend from the trees.  At the end of our time at the sanctuary we met some orphan baby sloths.  They were cute and very personable.  All of the sloths we encountered moved far more than we expected.

In the middle of the excursion we went on a short canoe ride through the jungle.   From the canoe we saw a wild sloth, a couple of yellow-crowned night herons, a large green fancy lizard, and an oriole snake (very small).  We also saw another kind of heron at the end, which we have not yet been able to identify.

The final stop on this excursion was a place where we could buy souvenirs and listen to a trio of musicians.  In all it was a good trip and we learned a lot.  We liked it better than the Tortuguera canals, because it was a much more intimate way to experience tropical wildlife.          

                                                       Señor Aviarios and Susan with Buttercup

© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com