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September 15, 2015

It’s been scientifically proven that giving to a good cause makes you feel better. There’s no easier way to improve a vacation than by adding in a little philanthropy, especially when it comes in a sloth shape.

Costa Rica’s Sloth Sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates sloths in the hopes of releasing them back into the wild. The Sanctuary is a four-hour drive from Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose, or a $30 taxi ride from Puerto Limon. When you see the yellow sloth-crossing sign, you’re almost there.

Some of the sloths that come to the Sanctuary are adults who have been injured, but many are orphaned babies who require round-the-clock care in the hospital’s N.I.C.U.

Related: Exploring Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula

Daily two-hour tours of the facilities are offered in both Spanish and English and include a canoe trip on the river to see rainforest wildlife. For an even more immersive experience, stay in one of the reasonably priced, simple rooms of the Sanctuary’s Buttercup Inn (named for the Sanctuary’s sloth mascot, obviously). Wake in the morning for complimentary breakfast made in the Sanctuary’s kitchen and then head out on the Insider’s Tour, which includes behind-the-scenes access to the so-called Slothpital, N.I.C.U., nursery, and climbing rehab area, as well as the canoe trip. In May of this year, the Sanctuary was caring for 28 orphaned baby sloths simultaneously, which must have been quite a sight for visitors touring the hospital at that time.

The Sanctuary’s sloth-rescue efforts are funded entirely by proceeds from their tours, gift shop, and inn, as well as donations from around the world, according to their website. That means visitors can have an educational experience in a beautiful setting and walk away knowing that they helped make the world a little better. Especially for sloths.

For more information, check out the Sloth Sanctuary’s website

For more on Costa Rica, check out T+L's Costa Rica Travel Guide.

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