From cuddly toys to notebooks, there's a huge design interest in Sloths at present. But aside from being incredibly cute, what else do we know about these languid mammals? 

We find out from Judy Avey-Orroyo, co-founder and General Manager of the Sloth Orphanage in Costa Rica, and William Hartson, author of a new book about Sloths. 

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines the word "sloth" as an unwillingness to work or make any effort,  and "slothful" as lazy – informed no doubt by Sloth, behaviour which includes moving incredibly slowly and sleeping for between 10 to 20 hours per day. 

However, Sloths have not been without their admirers over the years – David Attenborough once said that he’d like to come back as a Sloth – because (as he said) - "hanging from a tree chewing leaves sounds great!"

But is it pronounced "sloth", rhyming with "moth" - or "slothe", rhyming with "both"? Well according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "sloth" should rhyme with "both" – but as that only applies to British English, presumably the rest of us can pronounce it any way we like!

Scientific research has increased our understanding of the ways of the Sloth, and in recent years they’ve started to be rehabilitated in the eyes of the public, thanks to the many cuddly clips posted on YouTube from the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is home to about 500,000 species including jaguars, spider monkeys, five species of turtle – and of course Sloths. Situated about four hours east of San José in Aviarios del Caribe, the Sloth Sanctuary is dedicated to the care and conservation of these creatures, which have either been rescued from captivity or found injured or orphaned. 

Where possible, the animals are eventually re-introduced back into the wild. Judy Avey-Orroyo is co-founder and General Manager of the Sloth Orphanage in Costa Rica, from where she spoke to Derek - listen back by clicking on the video at the top of the page.

William Hartston is a Cambridge-educated mathematician, industrial psychologist, journalist, author and self-confessed sloth-lover. He’s a former chess champion and international master – and he’s currently one of the viewers on Channel 4 television’s Gogglebox

Left: William Hartson; midddle: Dr. Richard Collins (l) with William Hartson; right: Dr. Richard Collins
Left: William Hartson; midddle: Dr. Richard Collins (l) with William Hartson; right: Dr. Richard Collins

He's also an author, most recently of a new book entitled Sloths: A Celebration Of The World's Most Maligned Mammal, which explores the truth behind Sloth behaviour.  Derek and Dr. Richard Collins recently met up with William in Cambridge, to find out more - listen back by clicking on the video at the top of the page.

- Words by Sinead Renshaw


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