Knowing the Sloth Sanctuary

Sloth Sanctuary

There are 6 species in the world, of which 3 live in Panama, the Sloth Choloepus hoffmanni (2-toed), Bradypus variegatus (3-toed sloth) Bradypus Pygmaeus (3-toed, only it is in Escudo de Veraguas).

Bradypus Pygmaeus is in danger of extinction and the others have decreased their quantity, so they could enter the list.

In the Sloth Sanctuary we can see the first 2 which are the ones that can be seen throughout the country.

As it is a rescue and rehabilitation place, there may only be one species at the time of the visit.

In Gamboa, just 40 minutes from the city, there is a place where you can go, know and see some sloths, it is called the Sloth Sanctuary.

Entrance to Sloth Sanctuary

I went with a friend to visit this place, which, although I had some idea, it surprised me a lot, since it is not a zoo, but the objective is the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife.

One of the things they do is to pick up those who have been abruptly separated from their mother or are injured, and if they can recover, they are gradually reincorporated in the wooded area of ​​Gamboa.

Unfortunately, if they are very small, they almost never are can reincorporated.
Once we arrive to Gamboa, we pass through the gate of the hotel and follow the indications to get to the Sloth Sanctuary.

In the place, there is no parking, but there is a lot of land, so we got around and went to the ticket office (first place on the left), and then we went to the Sanctuary (this is followed by the ticket office), the entrance is through the Souvenirs Store.

Sloth Sanctuary
Entrance to Sloth Sanctuary.

At the Sloth Sanctuary

Once at the Sloth Sanctuary you can see 3 large fenced areas with branches intertwined inside it, which is where the sloths are placed to practice moving around the branches, they are also fed, important, it is to see and learn from them. It is not to go and take a nice photo with them.

I walked to the last and it caught my attention, because there was really soft, instrumental music, at a very low volume and it seemed that the sloth was stretching, hahaha.

Chelsea was also there, one of the girls who works there, she answered our questions.

2-toed sloth
2-toed sloth.

Then we went to another area where they put the sloths so that they stay for a while and sunbathe, I learned that they eat soil, because it helps them to digest.

They hang upside down, holding onto the branches, while they eat the soil.

In this area, there are some giant tortoises, or so the girl told us, as much as we looked for them, we did not see them, hahaha.

The sloth is eating soil.
The sloth is eating soil.

A bit of the sloths

They are loners and we will probably never see 2 together in the wild.

How do they mate? for the male scratches his back with a trunk, thus spreading its scent and the female who is nearby can feel it and find it.

Another fact, they are neither monkeys nor bears, they are Sloths and they are family of the anteater and armadillo.

They are slow and in some cases very slow, due to their metabolism and, in addition, what they eat does not give them much energy.

Both sloths, the one with 2-toed and the one with 3-toed, have 3 toes on the back legs, but they differ on the front legs and other things like:

2-toed sloth

  • Nocturnal,
  • Its fur is brown,
  • Eat leaves and fruits,
  • Is aggressive,
  • Is slow,
  • It has no tail,
  • It separates from its mother a year and a half.
The sloth is sunbathing
The sloth is sunbathing.

3-toed sloth

  • It is diurnal,
  • Its fur is grayer,
  • Only eat leaves,
  • It is passive,
  • It is very very very slow,
  • It seems to smile,
  • It separates from its mother at 6 months.

Sadly one of the biggest predators is the human , because they are run over by drivers, deforest the habitat and children stone them, the sloths are very vulnerable on the ground.

Asociación Panamericana para la Conservación (APPC)

It is the association that is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of wild animals and they are the ones who manage the Sloth Sanctuary, but not only do they help sloths, although these are the majority.

I had the opportunity to meet Yiscel and learn a little more about her work, they bring them animals from all over the country.

They take care of them and when they have recovered they are released, however, if they arrived too baby, it is very difficult that they be released, since they did not learn some things from the mother and most likely they will not last long outside the refuge.

Baby owl
Baby owl.

Knowing Yiscel’s work area, I could see that a Falcon was finishing his recovery and a couple of days later, it had already been released.

This association accepts donations of both money and supplies.

For more information visit

If you find an injured animal and it is baby orphaned, you can call the Ecological Police (314-9451 – 24 hours), they will pick it up and take it to a rehabilitation center such as the APPC.

sloths Taking a nap
Taking a nap


  • Bring water
  • Cap/hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Don’t make noise
  • Do not feed the animals
  • Do not touch the animals
  • Ask all the questions you want, those who work there are experts.
Area under roof of the Sanctuary
Area under roof of the Sanctuary.


  • Wednesday, Fridays and Saturday
  • From 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


  • $20 Adults
  • $10 Children
  • -25% for seniors ($15.00)

The cost also includes a visit to the frog, the orchids and the butterfly. Booking is needed you can call (507) 314-5028, write at (507) 6676-5611 or to or make a booking on the web site.

Visit to the APPC Wildlife Rescue Center

  • $120.00 for 2 people.
  • $55.00 per additional  person in the visit.

Booking is required 72 hours in advance, write to

How to get to Sloth Sanctuary?

It is quite easy, you can head to Gamboa and once past the bridge take the street to the right, at the entrance there is a security guard that will give you more directions.

You can also use an application like Google Maps and place Hotel Gamboa Rainforest Resort.

After security guard passes, you must take left, left and right.  There is a clear place to park, just park without obstructing entrances.

If you go by bus, take one at the Albrook Bus Terminal in the direction to Gamboa and get off at the first stop after passing over the bridge (in Gamboa), continue with the indication of those who drive, you must walk a lot, there are some hills.

For more information visit de APPC web site.

Updated: 2021.

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