3 min read

An Unlikely Duo: A Sloth and a Dog Friendship


Written by Aurus Sy

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 10/14/2021, edited: 10/19/2022

This October 16th, why not take it easy? It is International Sloth Day, after all. Created by Colombia-based non-profit Aiunau in 2010, International Sloth Day is celebrated every third Saturday of October to raise awareness about the world’s slowest mammal and their habitat. 

Though sloths play an important role in the ecosystem and are loved by many thanks to their adorable faces, they are not exempt from habitat loss and other problems. Two of the six species of sloths are high on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, with the pygmy three-toed sloth considered “critically endangered” and the maned three-toed sloth categorized as “vulnerable”.

Let’s spend International Sloth Day by slowing down and learning more about these unhurried critters! But first, a heartwarming story about an unlikely friendship…

Chuwie and Eli

Not too long ago, a cute video of two friends from Caracas, Venezuela was posted online. The minute-long clip shows pals Chuwie and Eli playing together. But what’s unusual about the pair is that Chuwie is a sloth and Eli is a Beagle

Interspecies friendships are not unheard of, but sloths and dogs typically don’t mix. In Costa Rica, dog attacks are the second leading cause of death for wild sloths. However, Eli and Chuwie prove that there's often an exception to a rule. 

Chuwie was rescued by Eli’s family after he was found close to death on the road. He had been electrocuted on a power line and lost three of his claws. Unable to find a local vet who knew how to treat sloths, Eli’s family enlisted the help of veterinarians and experts from all over South America.

Thanks to the support they received, they were able to nurse Chuwie back to health and establish the Chuwie Foundation, Rescue and Rehab Center for Sloths. In just 8 months, the center has rescued 51 sloths, more than half of whom have been released back into the wild. Chuwie, their first rescue, now serves as the ambassador of the foundation.

Sloth hanging from tree branches - An Unlikely Duo a Sloth and a Dog Friendship

Fun facts about sloths

Eager to know more about the slowest mammal on Earth? Here are some interesting facts about sloths! 

  • Sloths are slow, but they’re not lazy! The sloth’s speed, or lack thereof, is actually a survival strategy that has successfully helped them remain on this planet for nearly 64 million years. Since their main predators (jaguars, ocelots, and harpy eagles) primarily hunt by sight, sloths move slowly to avoid being identified as prey.
  • Sloths don’t sleep all day. In the wild, sloths sleep for 8–10 hours a day on average, which is a lot less than howler monkeys (15 hours) and koalas (up to 20 hours).  
  • Sloths are not related to monkeys. Though sloths spend most of their lives hanging upside down from tree branches, they're actually related to anteaters and armadillos. All three animals belong to the major clade known as xenarthra.
  • All sloths are folivores. A folivore is a herbivore that only eats leaves. It takes a sloth 30 days to digest a single leaf due to their slow metabolic rate — the slowest of any non-hibernating mammal. 
  • Sloths house an entire ecosystem in their fur. Various species of algae, fungi, moths, and insects can be found in a sloth’s fur. This is why they often look green, allowing them to blend into the rainforest canopy and avoid being seen by visual predators. 
  • Sloths are good swimmers. In fact, they can move three times faster in the water than on the ground! Their ability to swim enables them to cross rivers and move between trees when the forest floods. 

Do you have any favorite unlikely duos? Which sloth fun fact did you find most fascinating? Share them with us in the comments below, and tag #wagwalking or @wag on Instagram for a chance to be featured on our feed!

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