Have I talked about my fear of sloths? I get that it is an unfounded phobia, but there it is. Something about their long digits, squished faces, I don’t know… Just do not want to run into a sloth.
I get it. They are slow. Even I could easily flee from one. But that’s the thing about irrational fears. Reason doesn’t help.
My friends and family have truly enjoyed this fear of mine. Moving to Panama, land of many species of animals including sloths, has given them a great deal of material to tease me with. I get videos, photos, cartoons, even Sloth Crossing signs (thanks Brig).
But guess what I did on Sunday?
That’s right. Face to face with sloths.
We headed up to the Gamboa Resort to visit their Sloth Sanctuary. Open Tuesday through Sunday. $20 per person gets you a visit to the Orchid farm, the Sloth Sanctuary, the frog preserve and the wildlife rehab center. Animals come and go depending on what is at the center.
We started seeing beautiful orchids. The guide said there were 25,000 types of orchids in Panama, about 250 represented in the orchid farm there. If I haven’t said it before, the sheer amount of flora, fauna, biota, etc. in Panama is amazing. It’s a hub of biodiversity.
Next up was the highlight of the tour, sloths and other animals at the rehab center. There were two open air areas for sloths. One center area for larger animals. We got to see a playful, adventurous anteater in the main area, and three sloths eating flowers in the other areas. Close up and personal. The anteater was successfully using the gate to the main area to try to climb out. Made me nervous. But a careful caretaker kept track of and played with her while explaining how she came to be at the center and what they were doing to help her.
The caretakers in the sloth areas were placing flowers along branches to get the slow-moving creatures to move along in search of a snack. One refused, hanging from a branch, enjoying the breeze. I didn’t blame her. In Panama, if there is a breeze, you better take the time to let it flow over you…
Then we entered the butterfly preserve. I had to concentrate on NOT swatting a butterfly away. So many flying, circling, dipping, hiding, twirling around. It was a little overwhelming at first.
Next up were the frogs. Tiny but poisonous options…
The tour ended at the rehab center which had neques, tamarins, and an ocelot. All behind glass or fencing, but plenty close.
I’m still undecided if it is a good thing that so many of the animals (neques, tamarins, birds, butterflies, etc.) at the wildlife center have been in my neighborhood…