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Urban Sloths: Public Knowledge, Opinions, and Interactions

OPEN Animals : an open access journal from MDPI | 13 Jun 2018

KF Pereira, RJ Young, V Boere and IOE Silva
Abstract
Free-range sloths living in an urban environment are rare. In this study, the opinions, attitudes, and interactions with a population of Bradypus variegatus were investigated through short, structured interviews of people in the pubic square where the sloths live, in addition to informal, opportunistic observations of human-sloth interactions. A questionnaire was applied to people in the square where the sloths reside, and informal, opportunistic observations of human-sloth interactions were made. 95% of respondents knew of the sloths’ existence in the square and 87.8% liked their presence. Opinions about population size differed greatly and younger people were concerned as to whether the square was an appropriate place for them. Some human-sloth interactions showed the consequences of a lack of biological knowledge. People initiated all sloth-human interactions. The fact that sloths are strictly folivorous has avoided interactions with humans and, consequently, mitigated any negative impacts of the human-animal interaction on their wellbeing. These results demonstrate that, while there is a harmonious relationship between people and sloths, actions in environmental education of the square’s public could be beneficial for the sloths.
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