Sloth wine tasting and 'afterschool slime with sloths'. These are the latest in a string of cruel and exploitative 'encounter experiences' being disguised as 'enrichment', 'education' and 'conservation'.
Barn Hill Preserve are unashamedly using sloths as props for their wine tasting and 'slime making' events. At these events paying guests are allowed to hold, pet and take selfie photographs with baby sloths.
Not only should those baby sloths be with their mothers, but it is well-known that sloths do not enjoy being touched or handled by humans (with scientific evidence proving that all sloths experience abnormal blood pressure reactions in response to human contact due to internalized stress) - especially when exposed to noisy groups of children and adults that are drinking alcohol!
An organisation can still entertain and educate guests while raising funds without putting their sloths in such a stressful situation (lots of zoos all over the world host ethical sloth encounters).
At The Sloth Conservation Foundation we are particuarly concerned about the dangerous knock-on consequences for sloths in the wild. Hands-on encounters like this 'normalize' human-wildlife contact. Social media is flooded with photos of people directly interacting with wild animals.
Hundreds of thousands of people are now coming to countries like Costa Rica and wanting to touch or hold a sloth after seeing other people doing it on social media. To feed the demand for hands-on sloth encounters, baby sloths are being taken away from their mothers in the wild and are exploited as tourist attractions until they die – and then they are replaced.
Sloths are now the number 1 victims of the global "wildlife selfie trade" and human exploitation is quickly becoming one of the major threats to the survival of wild sloths.
The only way to stop this from happening to sloths in countries like Costa Rica is to kill the demand at the source. And that requires organizations like Barn Hill Preserve taking responsibility for the fact that they are setting a dangerous precedent for what is an acceptable interaction with a sloth.
Sloths do not exist for human entertainment. Sign the petition and demand an end to sloth wine tasting events!
We stopped sloth yoga. We stopped sloth sleepovers. We stopped sloth swimming lessons. We can stop this too. Do not be afraid to also reach out to any organisation hosting these types of events to directly express your concerns!