Monday, 22 November 2010

November happenings

I really have been getting a bit lazy with writing the blog - I will try and update it more often in the future! (By the time I come around to writing it, I forget Add Videowhat has been happening..)

Ok so firstly, MORE babies !! We literally have babies coming out of our ears at the moment, there aren't normally this many! Unfortunately the first one we received last week (named jessie) died of pneumonia. Then the day after, we received the youngest one yet - possibly hours old - it still had the umbilical cord attached! He was found early in the morning after a stormy night by one of the workers. We think that the mother gave birth, then the branch she was hanging from broke off and her and baby fell to the ground - but the baby was found wedged under the branch so the mother probably couldn't pick it up. We named this one Jessie boy, but unfortunately he too died a couple of nights ago. We think it was probably because he had an infection around the remaining umbilical cord and he was just too young to fight it :-(

And more sad news, a few of the younger ones have developed what can only be described as a 'sniffle'. They didn't seem to be doing too badly but sadly, Apollo died suddenly 2 nights ago and Ella isn't doing so well at the moment. However she is still eating fine so fingers crossed she can shake it off !! Apart from this though, everyone else is doing fine :-) The weather has been cold (for a sloth) and VERY rainy this week so they aren't enjoying that so much.

Ubu is a 6 month old Choloepus baby with paralysed back legs who I have been working with daily to try to get them working again! He's quite a character and has been making incredible improvements over the last week - moving his legs all by himself! I have even had him learning to climb on the 'jungle jim' - very sweet! I will get some pictures soon (when it stops raining.)

Anyway enough about the babies, we have had some naughty escapees! The new enclosures in the visitor centre were designed to be escape proof - obviously not well enough for determined sloths. The surprising thing is, the first escapee was the laziest, sleepiest sloth of all, Millie! We found her in the morning clinging to the outstide of the building fast asleep. She managed to do this every night until we figured out her route and ruined it for her. Then a week later one of the 2 Bradypus babies that are in there at the moment discovered he could climb over the wall and get to the people on the other side for cuddles! I first found him when I was on one of my night shifts - went to record what they were doing and found him sitting outside the enclosure happily munching on some leaves. He then escaped every hour for the whole night so he has now been relegated back with the others! This is Millie:

Judy and Luis finally arrived back from Monteverde today so they have lots of catching up to do on everything that has been going on! They weren't due back for another few weeks but the emergency with the babies has called for Judy's magic sloth whispering! I think buttercup is very glad to have her back (as we all are!)

I have been having a bit of a rethink about my project this week. After realising that I wont be able to manipulate the diet, I also realised that it is going to be much harder than I originally thought to change the structure of the enclosures and vary feeding times etc. Also, things like light levels are difficult to change as they are semi - indoors. However, I am not stuck for ideas of what to study; I am almost spoilt for choice! Luckily my supervisor is coming out here this week to help me decide exactly what to focus on and how to get around the problems. I will let you know what we decide on doing - its exciting stuff!

I saw my first ever wild Choloepus today in Cahuita - chilling in an Almond tree! On the sanctuary grounds there are 3 Choloepus that have been rehabiliated and released but have never really left, and they too live in Almond trees. Hopefully I will be able to tag these with the devices and use it as a nice intermediate comparison between wild and captive behaviours (They have access to all the things wild ones do and captive ones don't - direct sunlight, rain etc - but also only feed of one type of leaf, just like the captive sloths currently being rehabiliated!) So it will be interesting to compare their activity patterns and see how they differ - Do they sleep more or less than captive / wild sloths? Do they sleep / feed at similar times? Do they scratch more or less than in captivity? etc etc, you get the idea!
So right now I am going through the data from the daily diaries I have had on the captive Bradypus sloths, and working out the proportions of time spent doing each behaviour - VERY time consuming!! I have included a picture of what some of the data looks like!

Anyway thats just a brief update of whats has been happening recently. I'm sure I have missed things out but I will write as things happen in future!



  1. Becky, Did you ever figure out what the original Jewel data was about. The one you said "she looks like she's teleporting". Know that's her in the photo above, I'd know my girl anywhere. Please say hello to Selma for me. SLOTH PATROL!
    Hope to see you in a month or two.

  2. It certainly is Jewel .. shes a darling and v important to my study now !! No never found out what that data was about - my guess is a particually vigerous scratch ! Yes, hope you come back soon !! will be good to see you :-)

  3. Becky, love reading your blog! Am coming as a volunteer Dec 17-Jan 5 and hope you'll be there given upcoming holidays. Am very interested in your research tho this is my 1st exposure to sloths. Usually I'm traveling to Cameroon Africa to help manage a chimpanzee sanctuary. Guessing chimps & sloths are pretty different! Let me know if you need me to bring anything.
    Karen, Seattle, WA USA

  4. Sorry for the late reply - you will be arriving here today!! Well have a safe journey and I'm sure I will see you shortly :-)

    - oh and yeah sloths are probably a little .. slower.. than chimps! (just as great though!)