Having lived in the area for a few years, I know that St. Augustine is a great spot for a day trip from Jacksonville. I have been to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm a few times, but was excited the learn that in 2019 they received a pair of two toed sloths, named Grizzly and Teddy. Now, like many people I have had a LOVE of sloths. I have dreamt of holding one or petting one, but that involved a trip to Costa Rica or some other country and I had no plans for that yet. So later, when St Augustine Alligator Farm announced they would have a sloth encounter I was ready to plan a visit.
I knew I had to do it. But, I wasn’t enough of a planner so every time I looked to book it, it was fully booked. So, in January when I was signing up my oldest for the ropes course and checked to see if the Sloth Encounter was available, and it wasn’t, I checked for the next time where my daughter was off school and we could make it work. And with that our sloth encounter at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm was booked.
After visiting the North Florida Wildlife Center and getting up close with a baby kangaroo, I knew we’d love the sloths just as much. But to say we loved the experience is an understatement. We got to pet with 2 fingers while we fed them vegetables, watch as they moved around the enclosure and even got a selfie when Grizzly hung upside down behind us.
Sloth Encounter Tips for Success
So, if you’re wanting a chance to meet some sloths, here are a few tips to make your visit to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm a success.
Tip #1: You’re going to have to book in advance. They only allow 4 people at a time, so the sloth encounters fill up fast. Be prepared to book 2 months or more ahead of when you want to go. When you’re ready to book, be sure to have a few dates available for your visit so if your first choice isn’t an option you have a backup.
Tip #2: DO NOT cancel just because it might rain. I know the idea of the Alligator Farm in the rain sounds horrible, but we learned when it started raining on us, that sloths love rain. They actually climbed out of their tree, and all around the enclosure once it started raining which made our experience even more amazing.
Tip #3: DO NOT book an encounter at a place where they hold the sloths upright for photos. We learned, that even though holding a sloth sounds amazing, it’s not actually good for them. They live their lives in the trees only climbing down about once a week. Much of that time is spent upside down and they are built for that. So much so, that being upright for a long period of time being held and such actually causes them high levels of fear and stress. Only visit places that are ethical in their animal treatment, don’t give in, even if they are super adorable.
So who’s ready to get up close and personal with a sloth at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm?
Melody is a graduate of Jacksonville University, married a Jax Beach resident, moved away for 12 years, then returned to the area in 2016. Together they have two girls. Melody works as owner/photographer of Melody Coarsey Photography, she loves yoga, family, traveling, dining with a view and the ocean.