Now found only in the humid forests of South and Central America, sloths have not roamed the Pacific Northwest for about 11,000 years—but a small conservation center in Oregon is home to the largest captive population in the world.
The Sloth Captive Husbandry Center in Rainier is dedicated to caring for and researching these unusual animals, as well as propagating the species and educating the public on conservation strategies. All its sloths are of the two-toed variety—three-toed sloths cannot survive in captivity due to their specialized diet.
Although the center is primarily a conservation facility, it is possible to feed and pet the sloths as part of a pre-arranged small group tour. Visitors seeking the ultimate sloth experience should sign up for the very limited "Sloth Saturation Immersion," during which you can hold one of the animals on your lap. The center describes its sloths as "old souls" and advises that cuddling one of them can be emotionally moving.
In March this year crooner Wayne Newton sold two sloths to the facility after his plans for an exotic animal park fell through. The pair, originally bought from the Rainier center had been living on Newton's Vegas estate along with lovebirds, lemurs, swans, and wallabies.
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