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.
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.
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!
Me with Jewel:
This is how you get an unwilling 2-fingered sloth out a box .... flowers. Lots of sloth chocolate flowers.