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Sloths have become a prominent factor in some cities' infrastructure plans



Sloths don't seem to fit the frenzy of urban life. They move a little like slow mudslides. They have laid-back digestive systems - the original slow food movement - and their unhurried gait conserves energy to help them thrive on low-calorie diets. But the encroachment of more humans on areas where sloths live has made it more dangerous for these charming, perpetually pensive animals to move from tree to tree.

The Sloth Conservation Foundation in southern Costa Rica has begun to string ropes above roads so that sloths can use them to cross from tree to tree and not use power lines. Rebecca Cliffe, the foundation founder, told Bloomberg City Lab, if you're putting up safe ways for them to travel from tree to tree, then they're not getting attacked by dogs because they're up in the canopy. They're not getting electrocuted because they're using the ropes instead of the cables. They're not being hit by cars. A bonus seems to be that more than 20 other species have also been seen availing themselves of the 130 sloth crossings, including primates who swing on them like - forgive the expression - monkey bars. Maybe the sloths should charge the primates tolls to use their ropes.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.