Sloths — they're the adorable, slow-moving mammals that many people have grown to love. These peaceful animals can also teach us a thing or two about how we should live our lives, according to zoologist Lucy Cooke — author of "Life in the Sloth Lane: Slow Down and Smell the Hibiscus," a photo book filled with inspirational quotes about embracing and enjoying life.
Cooke spoke with MNN about her love and commitment to sloths, and why they're one of her favorite animals.
"I have a soft spot for misunderstood animals," Cooke said. "Sloths are very strange and hugely misunderstood. People think because they are slow they are lazy. But they are incredibly successful. The reason for their success is their slow formation, evolutionary advantages, being energy-saving icons and are brilliant at making due on very little calories every day."
It's sloths' slow movements and simple lives that inspired Cooke to write her latest book filled with quotes on mindfulness and reflection.
"We need to look at sloths as gurus for how to live our lives thanks to their slow, sustainable lives. We need to try and be more sloth-like. By being more mindful, we will be more considerate of the planet and of ourselves."
Cooke said the book's theme is "slowing down and appreciating life for what it is instead of chasing after what you want it to be."
But Cooke's book isn't just filled with cute photos of sloths and inspirational quotes. She also includes facts about sloths — like "Sloths are exceptional when it comes to digestion, capable of eating toxic leaves that would make other animals sick" and they are "naturally introverted creatures and very content to be alone."
Her deep knowledge comes from eight years of experience with these mammals. "I work with two to three different sanctuaries that take care of abandoned sloths where I take photographs." Cooke is adamant that she only works with sanctuaries that work on rehabilitating sloths with the goal of returning them to the wild.
Over the years, she has gotten to know the sloths at the sanctuaries. "I know the names of 200 sloths." She can even tell them apart from each other. "I love it because sloths for some extraordinary reason have very individual faces. The faces are very engaging ... some are goofy, and some are gorgeous."
In the end, Cooke wanted "to raise the profile of the sloth and the idea that being slow and sustainable is a good thing" in a playful way.