International Sloth Day

International Sloth Day - Sunday, October 20, 2024

Animal Wildlife

What is International Sloth Day?

Hang out and celebrate International Sloth Day this October 20. Sloths are slow-moving mammals often found in Central and South America. The two major types are the two-toed and three-toed sloths. Although sloths look like some kind of furry bear/monkey, their closest relatives are anteaters and armadillos. 

International Sloth Day Related Holidays


America marks National Wildlife Day on September 4. It’s an opportunity for everyone to step back, take a deep breath and think about all that surrounds us. It’s inspiring to consider preservation and conservation efforts that work to improve the natural world.

World Environment Day urges all of us to protect our natural surroundings.
The stunning facts? An estimated 7 million people die each year from causes related to air pollution, with a majority occurring in the Asia-Pacific region. This day encourages worldwide activism.

National Hedgehog Day tends to live in the “shadow” of Groundhog Day. And yes, there is a difference. You know those cute little balls of joy that have taken social media by storm? We are talking hedgehogs! Thanks to Instagram, these little babies have grown massively in popularity and now have an entire day dedicated to celebrating them.

Look at that face. Look at it. Over the centuries, people have derided sloths for being either stupid or lazy or a combination of both, but have you ever thought they might just be onto something? After all, they always kind of look like they’re smiling. Don’t you wish you could have that serene expression on your face every now and then? If you don’t, you should.

Everyone deserves to relax every now and then. International Sloth Day is in fact about two things: learning to take a lesson or two in being as cool as a cucumber from the sloths of the world, and raising awareness about the many sloths that get get injured, captured to be sold as pets, or even killed by humans. So help keep those sleepy smiles on sloths’ faces and take part in this year’s International Sloth Day!

The History of International Sloth Day

International Sloth Day was created by AIUNAU, a non-profit foundation dedicated to protecting all forms of wildlife. The AIUNAU members in Columbia have been working with sloths since 1996, as they became appalled to find out how many sloths every year were being killed by cars or power lines, and how many other were being captured to be made into household pets.

Once they rescue a sloth, they nurse it back to health, and then proceed to release it back into the wild, where it belongs. International Sloth Day was established in November 2010 as a way of helping people get to know a little more about these shy, quiet creatures that are known for their tenderness for one another and keep them from going entirely extinct, as several species of sloth have already.

How to Celebrate International Sloth Day

There are several ways you could celebrate International Sloth Day, depending on which aspect of the day you’d like to concentrate on more—learning to slow down and enjoy the little things in life, or help the sloths of South America. Ideally, you could do both. As far as charity goes, you could for example refrain from, say, buying that cappuccino you spend a couple of dollars on every day for one week and ten donate the money you saved to the AIUNAU.

And if you feel you just couldn’t survive without your daily dose of caffeine for a whole week, consider cycling to and from work every day for a week, and then donating the money you saved on fuel or bus fare. The possibilities are virtually endless.

Another important aspect of celebrating International Sloth Day is allowing yourself to just let go and relax every now and then. We live in a very fast-paced world where something is constantly happening—we receive tens, if not hundreds of calls, emails and texts daily, and we’re always in a rush: we rush to work, then we rush to pick up the kids, and then we rush home… On International Sloth Day, take the time to slow down.

Make sure you get enough sleep, take a walk through the park or a long bubble bath, make a real dinner instead of just popping some frozen lump of food in the microwave for 3 minutes. We humans should realize that although we may be the most intelligent of the species, that does not mean there aren’t things we can’t learn from other species. And who could possibly teach a better lesson about how to relax than the sloth? Exactly!

History of International Sloth Day

This international holiday was first created by the foundation AIUNAU, a program dedicated to the conservation and rehabilitation of wildlife in Columbia. AIUNAU first started working with sloths in 1996, and has worked to promote their cause ever since. Per AIUNAU: “There is a lot that sloths can teach us — respect, tenderness, joy.”
Sloths spend their lives in the tropical rain forests. They move slowly — covering about 40 yards per day, munching on leaves and twigs. Sloths have an exceptionally low metabolic rate and spend 15 to 20 hours per day sleeping. These long-armed animals are also excellent swimmers. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), there are two different types of sloths — two-toed and three-toed — and a total of six species:
  • Pygmy three-toed sloth 
  • Maned sloth 
  • Pale-throated sloth 
  • Brown-throated sloth 
  • Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth 
  • Hoffman’s two-toed sloth 
Their health depends on our tropical rainforests — which remain at risk. The WWF works with communities, governments and companies to encourage sustainable forestry. Without them, sloths will lose their shelter and food source. 
Unfortunately, when sloths periodically venture to the forest floor, they can do little to protect themselves from predators. That’s partially due to the fact that their limbs are adapted only for hanging and grasping, not for supporting their weight. Muscles make up only 25 to 30 percent of their total body weight — compared to 40 to 45 percent for other mammals.  
Animal traffickers pose yet another threat — despite the fact that sloths do not make for good pets. 

International Sloth Day timeline


Presidential sloth

Thomas Jefferson was involved in the discovery of an extinct sloth species. He received a gift fossil from a friend and submitted a research paper.


Prehistoric proof

​Smithsonian curator Remington Kellogg found a substance at the Grand Canyon that turned out to be 100,000-year-old sloth fecal matter. This sample has since allowed researchers to learn about past diet, and give insight into the environment in which they lived.


​Sloth fossils discovered

​Researchers found sloth fossils off a coastal desert in Peru and discovered they belonged to a group of sloths called Thalassocnus, who were semiaquatic and lived alongside whales and crocodiles.


Senior sloth

The oldest known sloth alive turned 50 at a German zoo.  The two-toed sloth, named Paula, first arrived in 1971. Oddly enough, zoo staff thought that Paula was male for over 20 years. They only discovered she was female in 1995 following an ultrasound.

International Sloth Day FAQs

How do you celebrate International Sloth Day?

Make a donation to your favorite wildlife organization. Sloths need all the support we can give them in the face of poachers and other threats.

Can sloths hold their breath for 40 minutes?

According to Travel + Leisure: “Sloths can swim three times faster than they can walk on land. And because of their ability to slow their heart rates to one-third its normal rate, they can also hold their breath for a whopping 40 minutes under water.”

Are sloths good pets?

No. As National Geographic reports: “Sloths require a specialized diet, a constantly warm and humid environment, and need to spend a lot of time suspended from high branches.” Translation: They are not suitable to have at home.

​5 Facts About The Daily Life Of A Sloth

  1. They're s-l-o-w

    ​Because sloths have a slow metabolic process they usually only relieve themselves once per week.

  2. ​Just hanging around

    ​Sloths are arboreal animals, meaning they spend most of their lives in trees.

  3. ​Camouflage at a whole new level

    ​A sloth’s fur hosts a vast ecosystem of moths, bugs, and algae — which taints their furs green and is used as camouflage in the trees.

  4. Are you looking at me?

    ​Three–toed sloths are able to turn their heads nearly 360 degrees.

  5. Aging gracefully

    When sloths survive possible poachers and captors, they can live anywhere between 10 and 30 years!

International Sloth Day Activities

  1. Create sloth crafts

    Craft your own sloth decorations! You can use all sorts of materials from felt fabric to paper plates. You can make a plush sloth for a friend or create an activity for kids. You can find more sloth cut-out instructions online or from books at your local library.

  2. Follow the sloth’s guide to life

    If there was ever a day meant to take it slow, today is that day! Unwind at home or enjoy your surroundings by visiting places you never have never been before. You can achieve this by strolling through the park, eating your favorite foods, and working on hobbies.

  3. Watch movies with sloths

    Enjoy National Sloth Day by spending a lazy hour watching movies with sloths in them. Our list includes “Zootopia,” “The Croods,” and any “Ice Age” film!

Why We Love International Sloth Day

  1. They are downright adorable

    It’s nearly impossible to look at sloths and not gush. Their fur is thick and soft — and their eyes are big pools of warmth. From their casual vibe, to their permanent smiles, they beam beauty.

  2. Sloths are master of zen

    Sure, sloths have their moments, but they are so mesmerizing to watch as they rest in trees and stay serene for what seems like an eternity . It’s no wonder sloths are so popular.

  3. They can get aggressive — if necessary.

    Although sloths have peaceful demeanors, wild sloths can be aggressive and bite very hard. If caught by a predator on land you are likely to hear a sloth hissing, or shrieking. Visitors at a sloth nursery should not get too close.

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