Known for their talent and predilection for doing nothing, sloths have long been derided as the laziest member of the animal kingdom, moving so little that mould literally grows on their fur. Fortunately, as host Thomas Morton explains in Sloths Save the World, scientists have discovered this mould contains microorganisms that have the potential to treat diseases including cancer and Ebola, saving millions of lives.
As humans, mould growing on our fur may not be something to boast about, but as heroic role models for the lazy, here are some lessons we can all learn from sloths...
Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing
Despite being surrounded by predators, sloths have survived for 64 million years using the governing survival tactic of staying still and hoping nothing notices them. Being the life of the party can be appealing, but sometimes the most successful person is the one who knows when to shut up.
Slow and steady wins the race
Clearly untrue in most cases, this old saying is something adults often tell talentless children to make them feel better about their dire life prospects. Yet, as sloths consistently prove, even the least capable participant can succeed, giving us all hope for our band, marriage or other seemingly doomed project.
Being likeable can be more useful than hard work
People love sloths, making us more likely to donate money or assist in their survival in preference over annoying jerk animals like seagulls. The downside is that some people take affection too far, as can be seen by this sloth’s reaction to an unwanted advance from an overenthusiastic researcher:
Work smarter, not harder
The alarming rate at which bacteria is becoming resistant to human treatment is a massive global problem that sloths have potentially solved by literally doing nothing. Although explaining to your boss that you are refusing to do any work in order to save the world is likely to get you fired, we can all benefit from the sloth’s example of efficiency.
Stressed or unhappy? Hang upside down for a while
Always seemingly content despite risks from predators and the destruction of habitat, sloths spend large periods of time hanging upside down. Admittedly, the human body is not designed to do this in a way that is healthy, but if you are actively seeking lessons from sloths in an effort to improve your human life, things probably can’t get too much worse, so you may as well try it.
Play to your strengths
The sloth is a fine example of finding what you’re good at and sticking with it. For the sloth and so many of us, this will be absolutely nothing. But as the sloth’s existence once again proves, that does not mean you cannot find success. (Although it probably does.)
In most cases, following the example set by sloths is likely to be a terrible hindrance on your life and very annoying for anyone expecting you to be somewhere on time. But jungle exploration and unconventional research are described in Sloths Save the World as “big pharma’s last great hope” at fighting diseases that are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.
Accordingly, next time you see someone being lazy or so sloth-like that mould has started to sprout on their body, try not to judge them too harshly. They might just be saving the planet.
Watch Sloths Save the World at SBS On Demand: