Shut down the "Sloth Sanctuary" and Release the Animals to Proper Facilities

Shut down the "Sloth Sanctuary" and Release the Animals to Proper Facilities

May 19, 2016
Petition to
Sloth Sanctuary and 4 others
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This petition had 3,775 supporters

Why this petition matters

Started by N A

The "Sloth Sanctuary", located in Costa Rica, has proven itself to be unfit as a sanctuary to sloths. This 'sanctuary', notorious for being featured on the programs "Meet the Sloths" and "too cute!" for Animal Planet, is realistically a cruel and inhumane business. The sanctuary portrays itself as a healthy environment for these animals, but has been described as a nightmare for animals by two previous workers. The rescue claims it is dedicated to the saving and rehabilitation of injured and lost sloths, but is rather run as a business to benefit the unfit and cruel owners. The rescue has a few ‘star’ sloths that are shown to tourists, but approximately 200 other animals are kept behind the scenes with improper food, space, and care. Two previous veterinarians (Dr. Camila Dunner and husband Dr. Gabriel Pastor) that worked at the Sanctuary are now exposing it, saying, “We truly believe they kill animals."

Sloths in this sanctuary, due to overpopulation, are often crammed together in tiny cages, the smallest at just 2 feet wide. Despite their gentle nature, the irritation and stress due to crowding can cause these animals to abuse and even attack each other. Described as solitary animals by Dunner, she says that “...they are kept in pairs or up to four individuals per cage. The ones that are lucky enough to be on their own are constantly fighting...with their neighbor. They can bite and pull an extremity through the fence, causing serious injuries.” One sloth in particular, Roxie, suffered a serious injury when her scalp was literally ripped off of her head by another sloth in a fight. A baby sloth, Peppa, allegedly had her leg eaten off by her own mother due to stress. The improper containment and imprisonment of these animals at the sanctuary is detrimental to their mental and physical well-being.

Sloths are not properly cared for at this sanctuary, and therefore it is extremely adverse to their well-being. Babies that are born at the sanctuary are kept with juvenile sloths, and are put on the same feeding schedule as the juveniles. Baby sloths are to be fed every 2 hours to maintain proper nutrition, but instead are fed 4 times a day, an inadequate and unacceptable amount for hungry and growing babies. These starving babies often develop jaw deformities and malocclusion (improper growing of teeth) after attempting to suckle on random things in order to attempt to gain sustenance. Sloths are also fed an improper diet of vegetables, cooked as well as raw, instead of the leaf-based diet they would consume naturally in the wild. In turn, many sloths have developed malabsorption syndrome, which leads to malnutrition, and even sudden death. These health issues promoted by the sanctuary’s lack of proper care further condemn them to the Arroyo’s sanctuary.

Judy Avey-Arroyo and husband Luis Arroyo founded the sanctuary in 1992, and it has had approximately 725 sloths in its possession since its opening. However, only a few of its sloths have seen freedom after their imprisonment. Only a scant number of 41 sloths have been released in these 24 years (that is nearly on average 2 sloths per year). The Arroyo’s have illegally obtained sloths throughout their years of practice, including an instance where a mother sloth (Nutmeg) and her baby (Cinnamon) were taken in to the sanctuary after being seen crossing the road, despite perfect health status. The sanctuary should not be allowed to claim sloths for the sake of obtaining them. Dr. Dunner says the sanctuary’s owners have “a constant desire to possess these animals.” The hoarding nature of the Arroyo’s is not fair to the innocent sloths that they harbor.

Sanctuaries are vital for animals in need of rehabilitation and care and typically allow for re-release into the wild when fully healthy and able. It is clear that the Sloth Sanctuary has ignored the basics of sanctuary, and is not fit for possession nor care of these animals. The Sanctuary must close its doors and free its animals to the proper environment.

For more information, read the article that Dr. Camila Dunner and Dr. Gabriel Pastor have contributed to on The Dodo:


(Photo credited to Dr. Camila Dunner and Dr. Gabriel Pastor).

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