Sam TrullThe Sloth Institute

Sloth Lover Tips on Being a Responsible Sloth Tourist

Never pay to touch, feed or take a phot with a sloth
Never pay to touch, feed or take a photo with a sloth

By Sam Trull, Co-Founder/Sloth Director at The Sloth Institute Costa Rica

It’s that time of the year when we experience the height of tourist season who come from all over the world visit Costa Rica for it’s amazing scenery (beaches, volcanoes, cloud forests) and for it’s amazing wildlife. The variety of gorgeous mammal species are usually a highlight for anyone’s to do list; but both species of Costa Rican sloths are almost always at the very top and many times people will plan their trip around the opportunity to see one of earth’s most fascinating creatures up close. We often get questions on the best way to see sloths while in Costa Rica. Besides taking a guided tour through a National park or visiting a responsible animal rescue center, we also know that people will come across sloths (and other wildlife) spontaneously. This is often the most exciting way to see a wild animal but there are a few things you need to remember to keep your vacation responsible and guilt free. Here are 7 tips on how to be a responsible sloth tourist.

The Sloth Institute logo

  1. Never pay to touch, feed or take a photo with a sloth (or any wild animal) Sloths are wild animals and can bite or scratch you and transmit diseases. In addition it is very stressful for them to be touch by strange humans. They just want to live their lives in peace
  2. Whisper Sloths are very stressed by loud noises; please keep your voices low when around them and try not to make loud or sudden movements, this includes music!
  3. No flash photography Bright lights (especially at night) can be blinding to sloths. Please only take photos without flash.
  4. No loitering Once you’ve had a good view of the sloth and shown your friends and family, keep moving along so the sloth can move along as well. If you are too close to them you are going to stress them out and prevent them from continuing whatever they were doing before you arrived. When sloths are stressed they freeze like statues.
  5. Do not spray bug spray or smoke when near a sloth Pesticides, bug sprays and smoke pollute the air and sloths have very sensitive lungs. If you must use bug spray, walk away from where the sloth is residing so that they don’t breathe in the toxic fumes.
  6. Support Eco friendly and local businesses Sloths NEED trees, clean water and a healthy connected forest to survive. Anything you do to protect the planet helps to protect sloths.
  7. Drive SLOWLY and carefully Sloths sometimes cross roads to get to the other side..they are no match for your vehicle and need time to get across. Stop traffic and keep people away from the sloth so it can cross the road safely.
No flash photography
No flash photography

And remember, all these tips apply to all wildlife not only here in Costa Rica but all around the world!

Thanks for Being a Responsible Sloth (Wildlife) Tourist!

About The Sloth Institute Costa Rica:

The Sloth Institute Costa Rica is a Costa Rican and US non-profit, run by an all-volunteer team. The vision of The Sloth Institute Costa Rica is to enhance the well-being and conservation of sloths here and on this planet. It seeks to do this through wild and captive sloths research; education and outreach; and by collaborating with sloth rehabilitation programs to assist with the release of hand-raised orphaned sloths. TSI is located in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. To donate to TSI’s 12 Days of Giving Campaign to help raise funds for lab equipment and the WISH program, go to: For more information email [email protected].