There is a sloth named Lola who lives at the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar, California. She has a sloth boyfriend named Sid. They are both equally adorable. And if you really want to make it happen, you can invite one of them over to your house for the afternoon!
My wife Lisa and I have been longtime sloth fans—we even have a sloth mural in our backyard. Whenever a sloth video pops up on the internet, our friends share it with us immediately, so when a video clip of Kristen Bell crying on Ellen about her love of sloths went viral, of course we saw it. Kristen talked about how her husband had hired a sloth to appear at her birthday party. We immediately asked ourselves, “how much would that actually cost?”
We soon discovered the website for the Wildlife Learning Center, a small zoo featuring exotic animals (most of which were rescued from people who irresponsibly bought them as pets and then realized they couldn’t handle them). The center is dedicated to animal education, and they offer a number of programs for schools, corporate events, and birthday parties where they will travel to a location with some of their animals for a presentation. The parties are generally geared towards kids…but considering the amount of toys on display in our house I figured we would qualify.
It’s not something that would be easy to afford on a regular basis, but with Lisa’s birthday coming up, we figured it was a good excuse to justify the expense. And we called up our sloth-loving friends, Jed and Chelsi, and pitched them on the idea of splitting the cost for a private sloth party. Jed’s sloth fandom has extended to a full forearm sloth tattoo, so of course they jumped at the chance.
And so one sunny summer afternoon Jed and Chelsi and Lisa and I got some chips and guacamole and drinks and a Fudgie the Whale cake and gathered in our backyard while two young and friendly biologists set up a table and a wooden sloth perch on our patio. They introduced themselves, gave a quick introduction to the animals they’d be presenting, and opened a large pet travel crate.
Lola the Sloth crept out.
She made her way to the perch and promptly…hung there. It was awesome. WE HAD A SLOTH IN OUR BACKYARD!
The biologists offered us some sloth facts and allowed us to gently pet Lola. They informed us that she loves to eat hibiscus flowers, so we plucked one off a plant in our yard and tried to feed it to her. She wasn’t interested, so we just let her hold it instead.
Another crate was opened and a kinkajou named Chiquita climbed onto one of the biologist’s shoulders. For the uninitiated, a kinkajou is a mammal from the rainforests of Central and South America that looks like a mix between a lemur, a squirrel, and a Beanie Baby. We weren’t allowed to pet the kinkajou, which was partially disappointing, but also reassuring: Whenever you’re interacting with animals you want to know that their interests are being prioritized over yours. We were, however, able to get up close with Chiquita and get some very cute photos.
And it didn’t stop there! We each got to hold a rabbit, a snake, and a Madagascar hissing cockroach. We started to feel like we were hogging all the fun, so we texted a couple of our neighbors with young children and invited them over to see the animals as well. I was particularly impressed with my 5-year-old neighbor’s complete lack of fear as she held an enormous hissing cockroach in her hand while beaming from ear to ear.
Lola eventually became hungry enough to allow us to feed her pieces of a banana, and she finally munched on the hibiscus flower we gave her earlier as well. As she grew more comfortable in our yard, she reached out several times, attempting to climb the posts holding up the roof of our porch. She clearly wanted to stay, and we would’ve happily obliged her, but it was time for her to go. The biologists guided her back into her crate and we said our sad goodbyes. Thankfully we still had ice cream cake to cheer us up and keep the party going.
If we had unlimited funds we’d invite Lola over every weekend. But if you’re looking for a more cost-effective way to pet a sloth, you can always visit the Wildlife Learning Center in person and take part in their “Sloth Social” interaction. Whether you go to the sloth or the sloth comes to you, petting the world’s laziest animal always makes for a beautiful day.