My second/third grade teacher, Mrs. K., was an amazing woman. She loved coffee, children, and the rain forest. Under her tutelage I learned about American Indians, how to survive a bear attack (play dead and let it eat you a little until it gets bored; do NOT climb up a tree because bears can climb too), and multiplication tables.
She was an amazing teacher who remains one of my very favorites. Probably because I was so often her "special helper" during my second year in her classroom. The school had wanted to move me into the Gifted program during third grade but I had so much anxiety over the prospect that I was granted special permission to remain with Mrs. K. because she taught combined grades.
In any case, Mrs. K. taught a section on the rain forest when I was in the second grade. She had been to the Amazon several times and was an expert! We learned about the Emergent Layer, Canopy, Under Storey, Shrub Layer, and Forest Floor. We also learned about the animals that occupy each unique layer and how they influence each other. Each child was assigned to choose an animal to research and share with the class. I wanted to study tree frogs because they are cute, but I got sloths instead.
And thus began my long-distance love affair with the sloth!
Years later, if ever the topic of sloths came up in conversation I would declare, "Oh, I just love sloths!" and leave it at that.
In fact, sloths remained my "favorite" exotic animal until the Giant Galapagos Tortoise came into the picture when I first studied Darwin and Evolution in School.
Oh, I just love Giant Galapagos Tortoises!
Last week I looked up sloths online.
They are freaky and weird.
Sloths are mammals with very slow metabolisms. It can take weeks for a sloth to digest a belly-full of leaves, which constitutes their main dietary food group. Mmmm, leaves. Essentially, they rely on gut flora to digest for them, so their stomachs are just compost bags attached on the inside. Everything about a sloth's anatomy and physiology relates to their slow metabolism and therefore low energy stores.
Their main defense against predators is to not move at all. The sloth is aided in this attempt by the vast amounts of moss and other crud that grows onto their shaggy fur as natural camouflage. They are the antithesis of the adage: A rolling stone gathers no moss.
Constant lack of energy --> No movement --> Gathers vast amounts of moss, bugs, and whatever else that does not want a ride.
Apparently, baby sloths can die when they loose hold of mommy -- probably because they are too lazy to hold on -- and she is too lazy to go down to ground level to retrieve her young.
I still just love them!
This picture just about made me wet myself. Enjoy!