October 20 is International Sloth Day, a day to honor the adorable slow-moving, tree-dwelling, and leaf-eating mammals.
International Sloth Day was created in 2010 by the AIUNAU Foundation, a non-profit conservation and wildlife organization based in Colombia. The unofficial holiday raises awareness about the life cycle and natural habitat of the Sloth. The day also calls on people to learn more about these native South and Central American animals.
Helping Humans Fight Diseases
These extremely slow-moving animals, whose name is synonymous with one of seven deadly sins in Christian philosophy, tend to spend their entire lives hanging from limbs of trees.
They have two layers of fur, which harbors a variety of symbiotic algae, fungi, beetles and other insects. The algae on the sloth's fur give it it's characteristic green color and helps the sloth camouflage itself in thick vegetation. Recent studies have shown that the algae and fungi in the sloth fur may help fight many human diseases, including cancer.
How to Celebrate
Learn more about the habitat, physiology and habits of the sloth.
If your local zoo has sloths, visit it and spend the day observing them.
Volunteer your time and money to a conservation and wildlife organization working to preserve the habitat of the sloth.
And finally, this is a good day to be slothful. Spend the day doing nothing at all!
Did You Know…
…that even though sloths mostly eat leaves, their stomachs can't easily digest them? Sloths have a stomach with four compartments and it takes them almost a month to digest one meal.