12/12/2011 09:12 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Sloths Are Coming... Slowly

In a sleepy corner of Costa Rica there's a very peculiar sanctuary. The only one in the world devoted to saving orphaned and injured sloths.

For the past year I've been making a documentary about this curious place and it's somnolent residents. It premiers this Saturday December 17th at 8pm EST on Animal Planet. It's a very funny film about a bunch of sloths whose lives are not as sleepy as you might think.

The sanctuary is run by celebrated sloth whisperer Judy Arroyo and is home to over 160 sloths. Many arrive as orphaned babies whose mother's have been zapped by power lines or hit by cars.

Judy does her best to be a sloth mom and teach the babies how to be a sloth -- potty training and how to climb are key parts of their sloth school curriculum. But at present she doesn't know how to teach them what leaves are safe to eat. The Costa Rican jungle is a veritable pharmacy of toxic trees and sloths are adapted to eat just a handful of species.

So Judy's hand-raised orphans remain guests at her exclusive five-star retreat for the rest of their lives. There they are lovingly cared for and have their every whim catered for. But there is just one house rule. No sex. With the sanctuary full to bursting Judy really doesn't want any more baby sloths.

But the problem they have is that when the sanctuary females are in heat they scream. For sex. This attracts male wild sloths from up to 700m away. For twenty years a steady stream of creeping Casanova's have beaten a slow path to the sanctuary to try their luck with the ladies.

These wild Lothario's are remarkably persistent and my film features one particularly cheeky male whom Judy christened Randy. His exploits led me to believe that sloths have in fact been named after the wrong deadly sin. Lust would be far more appropriate.

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