When I visited the Napo Lodge, our guides took the time to stress that we NOT support the locals by paying to take photos of captive animals. Unfortunately, a little girl holding a cute baby sloth is irresistible to tourists with a camera. One of our tour group begged to take our riverboat ashore where a little girl shouted to us . . . "Photo for a dollar!" First our guide ignored the pleas and then the number of members of our boat joined to chorus of pleas to stop the boat. Our guide expressed concern that we would miss seeing the Hoatzin birds as the later the time of day we arrived near their nests, the more likely we would miss seeing these rare birds.
When our boat returned from our Hoatzin adventure down the same blackwater river we had arrived by, the pleas to return to the shore in search of a photo of a sloth increased. Once again our guide simply shook his head no then the voices expressed disappointment for missing the rare opportunity. Suddenly, our guide stopped the boat mid-stream and turned to face us. He looked angry but he remained calm. Slowly he told us that the locals venture into the jungle to capture a baby sloth. Sloths sleep up to 20 hours a day and rarely come down from the rainforest canopy. Baby sloths cling to their mother as she hangs upside down in a tree. The locals will often kill the mother in order to capture the baby sloth. They send their children with the sloth since they know that tourists cannot resist the opportunity to photograph a cute local child and baby sloth. They ask for a dollar, a pocket knife, or something of value in exchange for the photo. Unfortunately, the baby will refuse food and water . . . surviving only a few days before it dies. If the local people discover that tourists will not buy a photo of the captive animal, they will not return to the Amazon Rainforest to capture another animal.
Remember that the the Sloth is an endangered animal and should not be exploited for the simple intention of capturing a photo for your scrapbook or blog. Be a responsible traveler and refuse to participate in this "circle of death."