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Your Votes Are In: Sloths Are Cute

Never mind the latrine thing, sloths are pretty darn amazing.

This sloth photo is straight-up labeled "cute sloth," and ... we have to agree.
This sloth photo is straight-up labeled “cute sloth,” and … we have to agree. Public domain

Sloth love has triumphed. Earlier this week, Atlas Obscura presented two arguments—one, that sloths are cute and adorable creatures, and two, that sloths are monstrous, disgusting beings—and asked readers to weigh in. The poll has now closed, and the results are clear. Just around 1 in 5 people who took our poll think that sloths are disgusting. Everyone else was head over heels for sloths.

In total, 3,348 people voted at the end of the article, and 2,751, or 82 percent, chose “cute,” versus 597, or 18 percent, for “disgusting.” This breakdown was essentially the same on Twitter, where we presented an abbreviated version of the debate.

Some commenters suggested that sloths could be considered both cute and disgusting, which we allow is a very valid opinion.

Okay, okay, yes, CUTE.
Okay, okay, yes, CUTE. Ontley/CC BY-SA 3.0

When we asked what swung people’s votes, it became clear that the greatest point of contention was what we had called “the latrine thing.” For some readers, it made the case for disgusting irrefutable. But for others, sloths’ cuter attributes far outweighed their willingness to consume human fecal matter. (“Stop the sloth prejudice! Humans are grosser!” one voter wrote in.) Many readers correctly pointed out that dogs eat all kinds of poop, and we think they’re adorable. Another argued, “Cuteness is based on appearance, not behavior.”

Other arguments in favor of cute included:

  • “They look like E.T.”
  • “The squawk sound!” (This was very popular argument.)
  • “The algae thing is gross, but also resourceful. I respect that.”
  • “They are animals, and not teddy bears. Of course they are covered in goo.”
  • “One time I saw one in a onesie and almost died.”

We won’t claim this as a definitive result, but we’re willing to call it. Sloths: no longer “imperfect monsters of creation … remarkable in their disgusting appearance,” as one 19th-century naturalist put it. Sloths are cute.