Saturday, 22 January 2011

January update

So January began with my carmine red dye finally arriving and my project finally beginning! My first attempt at getting the dye into them involved me not feeding them for 12 hours (so they were super hungry) then smearing it over hibiscus flowers and trying to get them to eat it. This failed miserably since they clearly could smell it and thought it was a bit unusual. I then tried to spread it across Cecropia leaves which also failed, but less so. Brenda ate a few but that's about it. Then to my surprise Jewel developed a taste for the dye-covered flowers and ate a good amount. I decided that this was a pretty bad method so with Judy's help, I let them eat their lunch then syringe fed the dye as a liquid. Turns out they quite liked the taste and drank plenty enough to do the job. I have been collecting and mashing the poo ever since - waiting for it to turn red! But I have no idea what to expect so it's fairly nerve racking. It has been 2 weeks since they were given the carmine red, and as of yet, the poo is still a lovely brown / green colour. Who knows what is going to happen ... ! Oh and also, Brenda has developed a worrying habit of shoving her head through the roof of her enclosure and getting it stuck there. At which point she just flails around uselessly kylestyle and waits for me to come and save the day. I hope she quits this game soon.

Felice settling into her new enclosure:
Jewel and the signs I have now put up:

About 2 weeks ago, we received a tiny new born baby brought to us by a police officer. Its mother had been giving birth in a park in Limon when some children began to stone her. She was so traumatised by everything going on that the baby fell straight from her, ripping the umbilical cord as he went. The police collected him from the bottom of the tree and brought him here, but sadly didn't prosecute the children, or save the mother. Judy and Marcelo stitched up the tiny babies' stomach as I held it's little hands, but sadly he died overnight, probably from injuries sustained through the fall.
More sad baby news - Over the last 2 weeks we have also lost Athena, Puca and Jacque Noel (the new baby born in December). I miss them LOTS, they were all super sweet, kylestyle. Me and Marcelo did the Necropsy's for all those who died recently as well as Topo Gigio. All the babies seemed to have aspirated milk and Topo has fluid in his lungs. It's still a bit of a mystery what happened, but I'm sure the recent 'cold' spell didn't help. Jacque Noel always had the Apnea problem where he would stop breathing after every feed, but we always hoped he would grow out of it - sadly not. But in true sloth style, with every loss we seem to be brought a new baby.
We recieved a new one a couple of days ago, now named Yodo. He was rescued after his tree was chopped down killing his mum. A family held on to him for a couple of days and unfortunately gave him cows milk, so as of yet, we dont know if he is going to make it. Today, we found a whole bunch of ticks on him and I had the job of pulling them all off with tweezers - all 70 of them !!! Looks like they had babies. Here are a couple of pictures:
Claire starting the de-ticking process:

Laurel is the baby I mentioned in the last post that would eat nothing but hibiscus - she is doing well and has finally started accepting almond leaves. However after weighing her we think she is probably only around 6 or 7 months old - far too young to know how to survive on her own. But she is super happy and eating well ! Timothy is another slightly older baby brought to us from Cahuita. He too was found on the ground, cold and very hungry! After eating A LOT he collapsed and had probably his best sleep for a long time! We have handled him as little as possible since to try and help him settle in, but today we inspected him and found a huge dog bite across his stomach. No wonder he was so scared. It looks ok though and will be stitched up as soon as possible.
Finally, Lola was brought to us by a woman not far away. She had found her alone, but had then kept her and tried to raise her for about 4 weeks. During this time she phoned Judy for advice and was convinced to bring the baby in for proper care. When she got here she was starving to death and dehydrated. She settled in after a few days and loved her goats milk and carrots- she was putting on weight nicely. Then today the same woman turned up demanding her baby back - we have no power to say no so despite our best efforts to persuade her otherwise, she took poor Lola back. I have no doubt we will see her again, I just hope she doesn't wait until it's too late to save her.

So despite all this, most of the sloths are doing well - except for the recent mange outbreak !!! It's hugely common in sloths and we get wild ones coming in to us all the time covered in it. Mange is basically a type of parasitic mite that burrows into the skin and causes a huge itchy mess. Even I have managed to catch it, even though it is supposed to be species specific - I am now a TRUE sloth wrangler. Today we decided it was time to get rid of it from the babies before it spreads any further. Unfortunately, we can't give them Ivermectin which is what any other animal would be given. So we use natural remedies - which has had a quite funny outcome. We mixed Achiote seeds with coconut oil, forming a bright red oily dye that we massaged into the skin. So we now have a whole bunch of permanently BRIGHT red sloth babies, and a bright red buttercup. It looks ridiculous. I had to include some photos -
Ubu after his dye treatment:
Me and Ubu:


Stephanie and Cosmo :

So all in all January (so far) has been a fairly dramatic and rainy month - although the sun has come out this last week and given us some beautiful weather finally! Despite all the drama though, the last 2 months have probably been the best yet ... I have met some amazing people and my project is finally looking up :-)

Lets all please keep our fingeres crossed for red poo in 2 weeks time ....

Monday, 3 January 2011

A rollercoaster start to the New Year

So 2011 at Aviarios started quite dramatically with the loss of 2 babies - Tiny Myte (Bradypus) and Elliot (Choloepus). They both died on the same night and as of yet, we don't know why. Tiny Myte is pictured below:

The following day, we were surprised by the birth of twins! We had no idea the mother, Mocha, was pregnant so it came as a complete shock to find her giving birth at all - never mind to twins !! What is even more incredible is the fact that she is only just about 3 years old herself, which means she must have become pregnant at only around 2 !! All the literature claims that the two-fingered sloth only reaches sexual maturity at 3 - which is clearly not the case! Both the babies were incredibly well developed, weighing in at 315g and 325g. There is one boy and one girl, named Sebastian and Violet!

Unfortunately, because the mother was so young herself and had been hand raised in captivity, the birth of 2 babies was very stressful for her and she didn't react too well. She failed to bite through the umbilical cords so we had to cut them free then take the babies to properly finish the job. She didn't pass the placenta immediately and we had no idea whether to expect 1 or 2 ... but turns out when sloths have twins they only pass one ! We tried to reintroduce one of the twins to her, but she was so stressed she rejected it. They are now safe and warm in the incubator being fed goats milk every few hours! Here are some pictures ...

As if that wasn't enough drama for one day, we then had ANOTHER baby brought in. This one was much bigger though, probably around 11 months. It looks as though he may have been weaned from his mum a tiny bit too early, which meant that he sat in a bush next to a hotel for 5 days and didn't move. He is slowly starting to eat hibiscus flowers (sloth chocolate) from us but hopefully he will start accepting Almond leaves and can soon be released into the forest!
In the meantime, one of our volunteers, Kyle, managed to get biten on the chin by an adult Choloepus with paralysed legs - Chewbacca. Nothing is impossible it seems....