Look at that terrifying face; it is sending shivers up my spine this very instant. If I didn't know that this was just an image, I would be running from my desk right now. Oh wait, I have done that before. This one time, at the zoo gift shop, when my little brother stuck a sloth stuffed animal in my face....or this other time, when the same little brother stuck a crayon drawing of a sloth under my pillow...(there's really no need to mention that I was in high school at the time of both of these incidents).
Besides their hideous appearance, I just feel that any animal that inspires the name for one of the seven deadly sins should not be trusted. Or this guy:
Why wasn't he called hummingbird? Or manatee? I think you're getting my point.
Let me address some common questions I get from people once they learn of my fear of sloths.
1. Aren't sloths painfully slow? Couldn't you outrun one?
Technically, yes. I think I once read that it takes a sloth an entire day just to come down from a tree and go back up again. But what if you were tied up and couldn't move and a sloth was unleashed on you? The painful slowness would be precisely what would torture you the most--sitting there, knowing the inevitable, yet having to wait so long for it to happen to you (they move six feet per minute, I checked) Horrible I tell you!
2. Aren't sloths herbivores? I don't think they would try to eat a human.
Okay, okay. It is true that a sloth's diet consists mainly of buds, tender shoots, and leaves. BUT, have you seen those claw? If I ever come face-to-face with a sloth, I'm surely not going to test this fact.
3. I thought sloths were from the rain forests of South and Central America. Are you really in danger of coming in contact with one outside of a zoo?
First of all, I feel that sloths should not even be in zoos as a courtesy to people with phobias such as my own. There isn't an official name for the fear of sloths, but that does not make it any less real. But, back to the original question--sloths are not naturally found on the North American continent, but my Dad once sent me an article that he read in the newspaper that reported sloth bones being found in rural West Virgina. So, who knows, there could still be some ancient sloths prowling around out there.
And so, it is because of these very valid reasons that I live in daily fear of the sloth. And you should too!