In Panama saving a 3 toed sloth from death!

Saving a 3 toed sloth from certain death on a Panama City road!

Am I a good guy or what, blocking traffic for the safety of this 3 toes sloth laying in the road?

A sloth rarely comes out of the trees it lives in, and super rare is a 3 toed sloth on a busy Panama City Street.

I was traveling back from my unsuccessful attempt to see the Panama Canal, and a car was partially blocking the road as I headed south.

It looked like a dog laying on its stomach – I thought the poor thing had been hit by a car.

Approaching slowly and turning on my flashers – because the animal was on my side of the road. I would hit it head on if I continued driving.

Then I noticed it wasn’t a dog, but some strange-looking animal!


How this guy who moves so slow got into the middle of the road is beyond me!

I stopped. The other driver who had partly blocked my lane, backed up a bit and we all just kind of watched this fellow.

Sloths move exceptionally slow because of their diet.

I watched one in the trees for a while and if I did not pay attention, I would lose sight of him because he blended in with the foliage so well.

The animal is about the size of a poodle but with more weight.

Why do they call it a 3 toed sloth?

Look at the following picture and notice the nails coming out at the bottom of his legs.


Notice the 3 nails coming out of the sloths feet?

The guy heading north that had partly block my lane had a large line of cars behind him and I was getting the line behind me.

People were exiting their cars and surrounding this little guy taking pictures.

As I said, sloths move really slow and scared sloths do not move at all!

This guy did not know what to do – go back to the forest or continue his adventure to the other side of the road where the stores were at.

I tried giving him a little nudge, pushing his behind and back legs – nope, he was not interested in moving that way towards the shops. Tough he was facing that way.

What were we going to do to get this guy to move?

In Central America – if you are in a car the motivation for the driver is to move – no matter what. So, the cars in the line started going down the sides of the road to get moving. Now there were basically 4 lanes of cars that this sloth had to get around

People in Central America have no patience when they are in a car. When they are out of a car they are as slow as death – but in a car it is rush, rush, move!


From the picture you can almost hear the sloth saying, “Help!”

I knew nothing about the animal – do they bite or scratch?

I wasn’t going to do any more than give it a nudge and that was not working.

Fortunately there came into a crowd someone how knew a bit about the animal.

He walked up to it and grabbed it by the back of its neck. Once he had a good grip he picked the sloth up.

Walking across the road back to the forest he gently laid the sloth back down to the ground.

The sloth was now back into his “comfort” zone and slowing started crawling back into the trees.

Everyone started clapping and cheering knowing that by stopping and being kind we had all participated in saving this sloths life.

Smiling, I hopped back into my car and went on my merry way.

Cheers for now

About John Wilson

Traveler, writer and photographer. No home now, just traveling the world in search of the lost chord.
This entry was posted in In Panama saving a 3 toed sloth from death!, Panama - the country, people and pictures and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to In Panama saving a 3 toed sloth from death!

  1. Silverboom says:

    Good story, John. Good pics, too. Good composition and sharp focus. Well done! And I learned something about sloths :D

  2. John Wilson says:

    Thanks for the compliment 1yearago2day,
    Never to old to learn new stuff!
    John D. Wilson

  3. Pingback: Poster's Paradise » Saving a 3 toed sloth from certain death in Panama

  4. Awww… what an adorable little animal. Well done for doing your part to save its life – I can only imagine how long it would have taken the sloth on its own to cross the road!

  5. John Wilson says:

    Thanks for leaving a comment Christy.
    I think if I had waited for the sloth to finish his trek, I’d still be in Panama!
    John D. Wilson

  6. Well I have learnt something today! Thanks! I did not know what a sloth was but well aware of the expression, and have often referred to a person as a “sloth”! Great!

  7. John Wilson says:

    Hi John,
    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.
    Sloths are actually pretty interesting animals – and I was happy to help save this one.
    Glad to have educated you a little about what a sloth is.
    Hope to see you again soon!
    John D. Wilson

  8. Oh wow, nice story and amazing pics of the Sloth. The first picture got me confused as it looked like a person on the road. But it was a very good experience seeing them up close. Thanks!

  9. John Wilson says:

    Hi David,
    Thanks for taking the time to read the story and leave a comment. I know you are a busy guy, so it is appreciated.
    I thought it was a dog that had been hit – the fur and all.
    A sloth is not the “cutest” animal in the world, but they are really neat creatures. Usually found in trees, there coloring allows them to blend into the foliage very well.
    Thanks again for the comment!
    John D. Wilson

  10. It is so rare to see a sloth up close like that. The poor little guy looks so sad in the photo.

  11. John Wilson says:

    Hi Stephanie,
    First, thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment, much appreciated.
    I agree, very unusual to see a sloth on the ground, much less half way across the road.
    I think the sloth was scared more than sad – he had about 30 people around him taking pictures before the hero of the day picked him up and took him back to the trees.
    Hope you’re still have a great time in Buenos Aires!
    John D. Wilson

  12. Sailor says:

    That was quite an adventure! I am really glad to find out at the end he/she was safe.

    I have been through the Panama canal about 5 times (if my memory is right) but never gone around it in a car. Did you finally get to see the canal?

  13. John Wilson says:

    Hi Sailor,
    It was the high light of the day saving the little guy.
    I will never know how he got into the middle of the road – they usually never come out of the trees.
    Panama Canal – I saw it from a distance, but never up at one of the locks. Closed when I was there. It was to late in the afternoon when I arrived to enter.
    Panama Canal 5 times?
    Wow, you are a sailor! That has got to be a neat experience going through the whole canal.
    Thanks for taking the time to read the post and to leave a comment – it is greatly appreciated.
    John D. Wilson

  14. Great story, John – what an amazing looking creature! I had no idea they looked like that and it seemed so sad and dismayed to be stuck there in the middle of the road. Wonderful photos!

  15. stevie says:

    Good job! I love those little monsters.

  16. Amazing creature — and what colors! If it weren’t for the triple fangs, it could be a kid’s toy.

  17. John Wilson says:

    Hi Terry,
    Thanks for leaving a comment.
    Yeah, the colors. I was watching one in the trees at a rain forest, turned my head for 2 or 3 minutes, and it took be ten minutes to locate him in the trees – that’s how well they blend in.He had moved maybe a foot, but blended in so well in his move, he was tough to spot.
    The toy thingy?
    Kind of gnarly for a “teddy bear” type of thing. :)
    But a bit of a distance, it could easily be mistaken for a kids toy or a dog.
    Thanks again.
    John D. Wilson

  18. John Wilson says:

    Hey Stevie,
    An email from the USA – amazing!
    Yupper, those gnarly little creatures are fun and interesting to watch.
    Good job on the post or good job helping save the little bugger? (I’ll assume you meant on both – that way I feel even better about your comment!)
    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.
    Say hi to Tree and Kiki for me.
    John D. Wilson

  19. John Wilson says:

    Hi Susan,
    Glad you enjoyed the post.
    First time I had actually seen one up that close – kind of a gnarly looking thing, eh?
    As I said in the post – they move real slow like a Koala bear, and I will never know how it got in the middle of the road.
    I tried to nudge it a bit to get it to move, to no avail. That is how close I was when taking the pics!
    Thanks for the compliments!
    John D. Wilson

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