Sloth Cuddling, Monkey Playing, and Bird Hand-feeding in Roatán

Choosing not to do the shark dive allowed for an extra day to open before us, which meant one last debt to be paid:  Hours-long fishing venture, check.  Now was the event Andy was most enthused about and also most testing me on: petting a sloth.

Anyone that knows me probably just did a deep inhale at the aspect of me petting a sloth.  For those that do not, let me say here that I don’t care for the animal.  They are actually the only animal in this world I have no desire to pet, touch, look at, or even go near.  They have Little Head Disease and these uber creepy smiles that never move with their unblinking piercing little black eyes.  Oh and their legs are even worse!  DOUBLE their body lengths and they stretch-streeetch-stretch their limbs out as if with a desire to slow-murder you due to their disgustingly long, thick nails.  Maybe they should have ears?  Or a tail?  Or something because they just seem this wiry slow-moving mass, which — by the way — on principal you shouldn’t trust them: Never trust something without knees.  Mainly something that moves that slow.  I’m positive sloths fake being slow and will absolutely rip faces off of living things.  Oh and who thought it would be a cool marketing ploy to make sloths the latest “thing”?  I imagine a group of people, determining what the Animal of the Year will be and Ed in the corner, nibbling his pencil’s eraser says, “You know what?  Sloths.  Sloths are our Animal of the Year” and then the rest of the group pauses, really thinks before saying, “Gosh darn it, Ed!  You’re brilliant!  Sloths it is!”  You cannot go into a store now without having sloth smiles on canvas bags or sloth faces on aprons or stuffed sloths because, well hell, I don’t know — just because.  I don’t get it.  First it was sheep then llamas — unicorns somewhere in between, if I remember correctly, and weren’t owls somewhere in there too, but now sloths?  I cannot imagine items selling fast with a sloth on the front.  Moral of the story: Don’t risk it.  There’s nothing redeeming about a sloth.

And I say all of this to return to the issue at hand: Andrew wanted to go to this animal sanctuary where you can pet and actually hold sloths.  Have I said already fishing and now this did not seem near equal to diving, a sport he ended up enjoying?  I think I got the bad end of the bargain.  However, again, relationships are about compromise and I was doing one heck of a compromise this day.

Alright, so we arrive at Sloth Land (which wasn’t actually called Sloth Land but Daniel Johnson’s Monkey and Sloth Hangout).  The story goes it is owned by this guy who rescues animals, such as sloths.  He started taking in more and more and before he knew it, he needed additional help and money to support his cause so he opened his Sloth Land to the public, charging a small entry fee, and people can come in to cuddle the little beasts, among other things.  Good story.

The first beastie to see was the South American raccoon, a large animal only seen in this part of the world.  It enjoys digging in the sand to eat crabs and climbing trees.


Next up were the dreaded sloths, which Andrew was beyond himself with excitement for the opportunity to see and hold one.  “It was a life goal — a genuine life goal!  Definitely Bucket List!” he told me multiple times with gleaming eyes and a bright smile.


Then it was my turn . . . and I’ll be honest, touching a sloth wasn’t that bad.  I’m an animal lover through and through . . . buuut I’m not going to go as far as to say sloths are actually cute because — be honest with yourself — they aren’t.  However, they are these squishy, helpless, delicate creatures that did make it hard to not cuddle them and smile.  This female sloth absolutely loved holding onto me, too — I think she could feel my heart pounding against her and for whatever reason that made her feel more comfortable.


Facts about sloths: Sloths absolutely adore hibiscus flowers . . . and on the topic of eating, they digest food extremely slowly (surprise, surprise) — so much so that they pee only once a week!

Sloths also have super long, strong nails, as you saw above.  They use their nails to hang off branches (or in this case, off people’s shoulders or necks). In sad news, we were told people actually cut sloths’ nails — whether because they have sloths as pets or because people are cruel.   Either way, if sloths’ nails are cut, this essentially kills them because they cannot climb for protection or food.  They end up being forced to stay in one spot on the ground where they are unable to fend for themselves and so they remain there until they die.  That really upset me that people can be so callous and ignorant, particularly to such a fragile animal . . . and yet, this is what humanity does. People come in, wreck what is natural, and leave. We are careless and selfish so if you, dear reader, find yourself here — Let’s take action to aide, protect, and cherish what is natural about this land.

On that note, let’s move to the monkeys!  There were two different types of monkeys here: capuchin and spider.  We were taken to the capuchins first — These monkeys are common pets in Honduras so much so that it is equivalent to owning a dog in America.


There were three monkeys in this enclosure, all of which flew onto your head then leapt off as quickly as they arrived. In fact, when they jump onto you, they give no warning so it is quite a surprise to not only feel them land but feel how they secure themselves, as Andrew found when the monkey used his nostrils to steady its little body!


Their attention was also diverted within seconds — One millisecond, they are focusing on eating sunflower seeds . . . the next, flying to your head . . . a second later, investigating your camera . . . and then (before you could take in any of that — never-the-less take pictures) they were gone.


All in all, the best word to describe these monkeys is “bouncing” as that is what they did physically and mentally too.  From capuchins to spiders monkeys, these were a bit different . . .

Spider monkeys are known to imprint, or form strong bonds.  This particular monkey, named Tony, imprinted on the owner of the sanctuary.  Only the owner is allowed to go into the spider monkey enclosure because Tony will get extremely upset.  The owner also has to go into Tony’s home alone or else Tony gets highly jealous and won’t let the owner go.


Fun fact: Spider monkeys have only four fingers and that’s because their fifth finger — which is their thumb — is located on the bottom of their tail!

Next were the birds, which I was over-the-moon to see as I adore birds and have wanted a green-cheeked conure.  Birds are highly intelligent.  In fact, green cheeks can be taught loads of tricks.


Speaking of super intelligent birds — Enter the macaws. They know how to take off the lock on their enclosure.  The only thing is they didn’t seem to have a desire to leave but instead wanted to prove they could go.  Those that worked there said the sanctuary provides protection and a steady food and water supply so, even if the animals get out, they mostly always return.


There were different macaws, too — These red birds were larger than their green mates so they were more heavy. This means when they landed on you, you can feel it.


Overall, I was happy I went.  True, this did not equate to a shark dive but to see Andrew elated at the mere opportunity to hold a sloth — that alone was worth it to me. Plus, the laughs we had from how the animals jumped or perched on us — I would not have traded it for the world.

Sometimes life is about compromises.  And sometimes those compromises aren’t so bad . . .

Author: L

Hi there! I am the impulsive do-er, the jumper, the one tugging to move past comfort zones to embrace a life of sheer surprise. I am a writer -- a pursuer of stories -- because I believe in the destination over the journey. I am a chaser of sunrises and sunsets and cherisher of the moments between. I have an overwhelming curiosity, an insatiable desire travel, and an obsessive yearn to turn dreams into realities. For all of these reasons, the word that best summarizes who I am is "seeker" -- I am forever a seeker.

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