Saturday, 30 April 2011

March AND April with the sloths !!

Ok, so my promise to update this more often fell flat on it's face it seems- but now I have finally got round to it and I have many-a-story to tell....

I will start with an update about my research - things are going great! I am just coming to the end of my second red/green poo chopping episode and digestion took a little longer this time: 32 and 35 days for 2 of my girls and I am still waiting on the last one! I'm not sure why this month had taken longer, it may just be a coincidence based on the fact that they only poop once a week (supposedly...although I seem to have to chop waaaay more than that) or it might somehow be related to the fact that the sun has finally come out and the rainforest has barely rained this month! My daily diaries have been out of use for the last few weeks since I had a MAJOR falling out with the batteries and they all broke simultaneously - that was a horrible day. But I now have new ones and they will be put back into use as soon as I return from my visa-run to Panama (in 3 days time...!) I also received my highest skin temperature reading this month from one of my girls - 35.8 C! This doesn't seem like much considering our core temperature rarely drops below 36, but the normal armpit temp for the sloths seems to range between 28 - 34.5 !! ... It almost appears that they struggle to keep warm - hard to imagine as I'm sweating my arse off chopping up poo pellets.

My sloth poop / leaves lab:

Anyway onto more exciting news, BABIES !! So the twins are still doing great, although they sadly managed to catch mange. This is still somewhat of a mystery considering they have had zero contact with other sloths... hmmm. Anyway they didn't seem to respond to the Achiote seed / coconut oil combo, so Judy took the brave decision to shave their fluffy baby fur off and use a sulphur / lard mixture which literally worked miracles. It sounds grim but actually looked delicious, a bit like lemon icing, almost edible. The poor babies were smothered in the stuff up to their necks, and then wrapped up in bandages to stop it rubbing off (or being licked off....!) The bandages were soon swapped for sloth pyjamas, especially hand-made from gym socks with little arm holes and a flap in case they needed to go poo. I am SO sad I didn't yet have my camera for this moment since it was possibly the cutest thing ever seen. But anyway the mange healed super quickly after this and they are now re-growing their coats. Although still look fairly bald and gangly, tangled up together in the incubator :)

Violet and Sebastian:

Mirra is also doing well, but her pairing with Velcro has somewhat expanded. She is now a (tiny) member of a four-some, with 2 more 2-fingered babies we received this month. Toby was brought in by a lovely woman who had slept with him on her chest for 2 nights until she could find transportation to get him to the sanctuary. He is a gorgeous dark chocolate colour and super chilled out all the time. They were joined shortly by a bright blonde bombshell of a baby, also 2-fingered. He was named yesterday as Will (after the royal wedding... it seemed appropriate, although he is not yet balding!) Now little Mirra is spoilt for choice on who's ears to suckle on. Sadly, at some point she will need to be separated from her buddies since she will be moving onto a different diet.

Mirra and Will:

Mirra and Toby:

Toby, Mirra, Will and Velcro hiding in the background:


Naima is a little ball of fun who arrived here a couple of weeks ago after her mom was killed by a dog. She was found dirty and scared clinging to her mums body before being brought to us by a local man. She is now super energetic and bursting with personality - although still a little bitey!


Laurel is one of our older babies who I mentioned in an earlier post (the fussy eater who would eat nothing but hibiscus leaves...) Well she has had some quite embarrassing farting problems this month! She had been doing great until one morning we found her inflated like a balloon - she was literally huge - think of the girl who blew up like a blueberry in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!!! All the gas in her stomach was putting her in some horrible pain and pressing up against her stomach causing her to burp and vomit (or try too... sloths actually can't vomit), so we knew something was seriously wrong. After much dilemma, we rushed her to the vet who knew exactly what to do - he popped her with a pin. This sounds, and looked, ridiculous but it worked perfectly! She just deflated within about 5 seconds and returned to her normal self!! We think she had eaten one too many berros (green leafy vegetable) which had fermented in her stomach causing the gas explosion. Hopefully she has learnt her lesson and won't be pulling that trick again...

As well as receiving babies, we also receive adult sloths who are injured or sick. We had a strange incident this month with an adult 3-fingered female arriving in a human ambulance, complete with police escort. Her escortee's told us simply that "her legs don't work". After putting her into an enclosure, it was quite plain to see that her legs were working perfectly; we still aren't sure why she was brought in. We did however notice that she didn't seem to have any algae or sloth moths which you would expect on a wild sloth. Anyway, after careful observations we attempted to release her on the sanctuary grounds. We put her into a tree on the edge of the forest, and after watching her fumble her way slowly and clumsily up the trunk, had a terrible realisation. This sloth wasn't at home in the trees like you would expect... was she previously captive somewhere else?? This would fit in with the lack of algae... maybe she had never BEEN in a tree before! Our hearts were in out mouths as we watched her ascend into the canopy, praying she wouldn't fall! Luckily she seemed to be a quick learner and over the next few days, finally began look at home up there. She is still hanging around and we are acting guardian angels, keeping a close eye on her!

Anyway, moving away from cute babies and farting sloths, this month has seen my mum & dad finally come out and visit! I finally took some days off and enjoyed some of the touristy things like horse riding and canopy zip-lining - all great fun! Oh and of course spent some time connecting with the inner-sloth, relaxing on some of the many paradise-beaches!

Lucy Cook and Animal Planet finished their first filming trip successfully... I'm not aloud to spill any of the details but it went very well and they will be returning towards the end of June to continue the film. Keep your eyes peeled towards Christmas time when it is due to be aired :)

At the moment I have a few exciting things in the pipeline that (fingers crossed) will work out. As well as having this research project published, I am due to write a spotlight article for New Scientist magazine on sloths at some point in the near future. Me and Judy are also speaking about writing a book - I would be doing the writing and it would mostly consist of her expert sloth-knowledge - all the incredible things that she has learnt over the years about these amazing animals that no one else knows - it is essential to get her brain recorded onto paper and published! This will no doubt take a long time but slowthfully does it ..... :)

And finally to finish this super long post off, I am adding some pictures of all the things I have mentioned in the previous posts but haven't had a camera to get the photos!


Ubu wants cuddles from Rolo:

The leaf always tastes better when it's someone else's:


Little blind Cheyenne: