Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Slothing in Feb

I have been terrible at keeping this up to date recently... things have been busy at the sloth sanctuary!! So this is likely to be a very long post, my fingers are aching at the mere prospect of typing all of the February happenings !! Anyway, here we go :-)

This month started with the arrival of Suzie Eszterhas; a proffesional wildlife photographer working for Ranger Rick, a Nat Geo magazine. She stayed here for several weeks taking some incredible shots of the resident sloths and also a few wild visitors. On her very first day here, one of our rehabilitated and released 3-fingered females (Esmerelda) ever so kindly gave birth, came down from her Cecropia tree, crawled right by us showing off her teeny tiny new born baby, then proceded to climb the tree directly infront of us - amazing !!! She is still hanging around (literally) giving us a nice peek at how the baby is doing every now and again.

Also during Suzie's stay here, all of my study females managed to come into heat simulatenously, all yelling for a boyfriend - as 3-fingered females do. They stay in heat for approx 7 - 10 days, during which time they poo/pee everyday and let out very frequent, very high pitched and very loud screams, therefore attracting all the local neighbourhood boys to the sanctuary. We must have had almost 15 wild males decend on my girls over the course of one day !! Now this is great for Suzie, but a problem for manyyy reasons. Firstly, they have a habit of groping my girls through the cages, and I DONT want a pregnant lady sloth in my study (nor do we want pregnant captive sloths full stop). Another problem is that my females are clearly so irresistable that the invading males tend to either rape / attack any other sloth they come across. This was terrible news for Esmerelda and her baby since she was harrased by a fierce 'rapey' male for days. All this tension in the air ment that sloth fights were erupting everywhere, and when two males fight the aim seems to be to throw the other one out the tree. Unfortuntely it rained male sloths for a couple of days. This is a horrible thing to watch happen, but luckily most of the fall-ees were perfectly fine, just a bruised ego.

One of the wild males determined to get into my room (never keep sloth poop in your room)
Volunteers who have been to the sanctuary may be familiar with Randy. He is a wild male that so frequently visits the females he has been named approprately. Obviously, he was on the scene during all the unfolding female drama, but was clearly a lover not a fighter since he sadly was thrown out of his tree during a sloth brawl. As he fell, he hit a branch on the way down, completely smashing all the bones in his upper arm (it was hanging as the most sickening angle ...). He valiently attempted to climb back up the tree, but our staff scooped him up and brought him into the slothpital. The sanctuary couldn't leave him in such a state so sent him on a holiday to San Jose with our vet, Marcelo, for surgery. He is now the proud owner of one bald, titanium-held-together arm sporting impressive scars. The good news is that he is well on the road to recovery and after his final X-ray in April, he will be released back into the forest to be randy once again.

While speaking of release, we released the 2-fingered female fondly known as 'Mom' this month. She arrived almost 7 months ago with a baby and a badly infected dog bite on her shoulder. The wound was treated and she regained full use of her arm but sadly rejected her baby in the process (who is still here and doing fine). After a few complications with the healing, she was ready to go and is now a happy resident of one of the Almond tree's on the sanctuary grounds.

Now the part that everyone loves the best ... babies !!! The twins that I mentioned in my last post are doing brilliantly (named Sebastian and Violet) - they are adorable. To add to the pile of cuteness, on valentines day we recieved the smallest little bundle of fluff on record; a tiny tiny new born 3-fingered baby weighing just 149g and measuring a minute 12cm from nose to teeny tiny tail. She is named Mirra (short for miracle) and is fully formed and perfectly healthy! New borns aren't usually that small, so we think she was probably a twin who was rejected as the weaker one. She is happily paired up with another very small baby recieved this month named Velcro (he is clingy...) but is a 2-fingered, making a very cute pairing.

Half way through the month, we had a group of people bring us an adult 3-fingered female with a baby. They were found on the ground cold and wet, so were brought in to be checked over. It turned out that the female was fine, she had just fallen and gotten too cold to climb back up the tree. On first inspection the baby seemed fine, but upon release she rejected him. He was brought back here and I took him out for a walk - only to notice something a little special - he had no coordination what-so-ever and his left side was very tense and stiff. I took him to see if he could climb which turned out to be a complete disaster - he definately can't climb. We think that he bashed his head when he fell, meaning that, like a human after a severe head injury, he has spasticity. This means that when he tries to clamber about, he can at best only use 3 of his legs, and completely misses the bars with each grab. More often than not he holds onto himself, then lets go with his other arm thinking he is holding on .... so I am always there to catch him. Despite this though, he is doing very well and I take him out daily to practice his climbing technique - He is lovingly now known as Cory.

Me and Cory:

Ok onto my project. I GOT RED POO !!! (very exciting moment for me). It turns out I shouldn't have been looking for a pile of bright red pellets, but when I chop them in half, the inside changes from a normal green colour to a red-ish brown when the dye is present. I discovered this after giving more dye to all my 3 girls, then using a sharp knife to open up every pellet individually. I was able to seperate the pieces into either red or green and make percentages of dye-pellets to normal-pellets. And the news you have all been waiting for - it took 25, 27 and 30 days for my 3 females to produce lovely all green poops for me !!! Thats a long time spent digesting ..... amazing !!!! I am now preparing to repeat this and will be giving them another tasty drink of carmine red over the next couple of days.

I had a minor disaster with the daily diaries - a couple of my batteries broke, meaning I was a battery short. So for the last few days Jewel has been device-less while we arrange new battery packs to be sent out. Apart from this though, everything is going perfectly and I am getting some very interesting data! For starters it seems they can control their body temperature much better than previously stated in the literature!

Poo collection!

Me with Jewel:

So as of today, Animal Planet are here to start filming a sloth sanctuary documentary. The producer, Lucy Cook has some very exciting things in the pipeline so keep your eyes peeled towards the end of the year when it will be aired (globally if all goes to plan)!

This is how you get an unwilling 2-fingered sloth out a box .... flowers. Lots of sloth chocolate flowers.

I dont yet have pictures of some of the new babies etc since my camera is still off being fixed. But I am expecting it back over the next couple of weeks so when I do, I will add many-a cute picture !!

I hope all is well with everyone, I WILL write this more often in future to avoid this super long essay situation ..

P.S. my mange is still raging.


  1. Becky - great news. Glad all is well in Sloth world. And great to hear the twins are doing fine - HOWEVER they are called Sebastian and Viola, not Violet:)

  2. Hahahah yeah ViolET kinda stuck, but we do tell people the shakespeare viola story when they ask. The poor twinnies just got mange and have had to be shaven. Its quite drastic but does look very funny. They are all bald and wrinkely having their skin treated, and they now wear handmade sloth-sock pyjamas all day to keep warm. It's the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen !!! They are doing good though.

    Hope all is well with you and tracy on your travels !! the sloths are missing you :)

  3. Hola, Becky.

    I found your site doing a search on the Sloth Sanctuary. Oddly, I was visiting the Sloth Center the day before you wrote this post. Too bad I didn't meet you there. We had this guy as our tour guide (3rd video on this page):

    Looks like we missed the Animal Planet crew by a day too. Darn it.

    Sorry you got mange. Maybe you should bathe in the orange solutions like the sloths. :D

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Hey Felix!

    You have witten some lovely things there about the sanctuary, thanks!! And also thanks for coming to take the tour - you can be safe in the knowledge that your entrance fee will have provided many-a-sloth with a green bean breakfast!!

    Its a shame I wasn't around during your tour - I am usually wandering and interupting Jeff's tours (Jeff was your guide!) Im genuinly considering smearing the orange oil onto my mangey stomach - anything to stop the itch !!!

    Keep up the sloth love! The documentary will be out around christmas time and will be FULL of cute. The "meet the sloths" video on your blog was done by the woman who is producing the documentary now - in fact, that video is the sole reason behind the film being made ! So keep your eyes peeled :)