I don’t really like animals.
I was terrified of dogs as a child and trips to the zoo were a rarity in my childhood. As a result, I kind of became desensitized to their appeal. Instead of seeing animals as cute and cuddly creatures, I observed most four-legged creatures as ferocious beasts, calmly waiting to pounce on their next victim.
With that on the record, my experience with Animal Planet’s lineup of programming has been limited over the years,. I’d scan through the channel in-between Survivor and The Voice commercial breaks, but that was pretty much the extent of my involvement with the network.
With that biased disclaimer on the record, more and more people have been telling me about the renaissance of reality television as it relates to animal-centric shows. It started with the The Dog Whisperer, but the general consensus has been that voyeuristic programming on people is out, and reality shows based on both domestic and exotic animals is in.
It is for that reason that I checked out an advancer of Animal Planet’s Meet The Sloths that premieres in Canada tomorrow and has already been taking the U.S. and U.K. by storm.
The premise of the program spoke to me to me as I have felt like sloths are one of the most misunderstood animals in the world and that their reputation for laziness often precedes them.
The cheeky Meet The Sloths is an eight-episode series that focuses on a sloth orphanage in Costa Rica. Operated by ‘sloth whisperer’ Judy Arroyo and her team, the Sloth Sanctuary houses almost 200 species and the series focuses on what happens after these animals arrive at the location.
While the cliché of shows being both “educational and fun” is often overused, at least in the case of Meet The Sloths, this is certainly the case. The series is groundbreaking. It’s also fun to assign characters to each animal and I found myself referring to one as the ‘Snooki’ and another as ‘The Flirt.’ I am quite sure that you will also find yourself assigning character archetypes to each especially as you get further along into the series.
Episodes cover a multitude of subjects and range from an injured sloth being rescued to Arroyo changing the bunking arrangements because of unwanted mating. Really, one of the only constants in the series is Becky Cliffe and her work.
Since the Sloth Sanctuary now serves as a Research Center as well, it’s the perfect place for a research student to gain first-hand experience and that’s exactly what Becky Cliffe does as she works toward her PhD in the field. The British bombshell completed the first in-depth project that delved into sloth biology and is currently spearheading a long term investigation into the ecology of wild sloths through The Sloth Backpack Project.
In each Meet The Sloths episode, Cliffe conducts an experiment with some of the sloths that live in the sanctuary. The result is that the series not only incorporates the traditional lifestyle and documentary elements that we love in the traditional reality programming that we tune into, but also allows for scientific sloth conclusions to be drawn in front of us.
I recently had the chance to catch up with Becky Cliffe to discuss the series, what the team does for fun when they aren’t taking care of the animals and the reasons why people should tune into the show. I also ask her to do her best impression of a Canadian accent and the results are hilarious to say the least. Check out the video above!
After watching the show, I can no longer claim any kind of disdain for animals because I now love them (at least as far as sloths go).
Meet The Sloths debuts on November 23 at 8 PM on Animal Planet
Tags: murtz, Murtz Jaffer