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Animals (Basel). 2018 Jun 8;8(6). pii: E90. doi: 10.3390/ani8060090.

Urban Sloths: Public Knowledge, Opinions, and Interactions.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Federal University of Viçosa, Viçosa 36570-900, Brazil. kissiakiu@yahoo.com.br.
2
School of Environment and Life Sciences, University of Salford Manchester, Salford M5 4WT, UK. r.j.young@salford.ac.uk.
3
Institute of Humanities, Arts and Sciences (IHAC), Federal University of Southern Bahia, Itabuna 45613-204, Brazil. vannerboere@uol.com.br.
4
Institute of Humanities, Arts and Sciences (IHAC), Federal University of Southern Bahia, Itabuna 45613-204, Brazil. itabio@hotmail.com.

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.

KEYWORDS:

Bradypus variegatus; brown-throated sloth; human-animal interactions; questionnaire; urban wildlife

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