Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Living the dream....
YES I am still living the dream - and this is going to be a very long 3-month-worth blog entry but here goes! It seems all my positive "I will definitely write more often" energy was an epic fail. To be fair though, things aren't very slothful at the sloth sanctuary, very busy times!! However I can promise that I will take some pictures of all the things I mention here and post them over the next 2 days ...
I know many of you already know the sad sloth news, but I will break it anyway. Over the last couple of months we have lost a few of the well loved babies including Alfie, Ella, Will and Lilo. Alfie was a complete shock to all of us, although he was always one of the small ones who had trouble growing - something we call failure to thrive. This was sadly the case with Ella too, although she hadn't really been herself for a few weeks prior. It's always very hard to see one of the sloths not well, since veterinary care for them is super difficult. There are few internal medications that they can handle, so most problems need to be treated topically. And this is where their careful, secretive nature catches them out - they don't like to let us know they aren't well, so they pretend to be absolutely fine until the very last moment when it's often hard to know whats wrong, and almost impossible to diagnose and treat. Blonde baby Will had (we think) neurological problems since the day he arrived - he was very erratic and didn't quite behave as we have come to expect. Sadly he deteriorated and passed away while snuggled up with his buddies in the incubator. Lilo was slightly older than the others, and probably came as the biggest shock. He had appeared happy and healthy, but had apparently been building up gas in his stomach (not normal since sloths can't fart or burp!) Although it turns out he had experienced some funky digestive problems as a baby that we thought he had grown out of.
Judy has come to learn that there is generally a reason why the babies who arrive here have been orphaned - their mom's probably know if something isn't quite right - and a lot of the time, these problems don't become apparent for a while!
While speaking of sad news, many of you will know of Mateo - the little feisty fuzz ball always getting into trouble - well he isn't his usual self at the moment. He has some strange open sores on both his hands that don't seem to want to go away and he is all bandaged up to the shoulders to keep him from chewing at them. He is now being spoiled rotten and refuses to be left alone for more than 5 mins at a time, meaning there is always someone wandering around with him snoozing on their shoulder. He is snoozing on mine as I type this .... :) I think we need to invent some kind of sloth pouch so he can keep out of trouble!
Now Wookie has also experienced a sad series of events involving, unfortunately, his penis. It came out with a fungal infection which was treated and went away, but he couldn't resist scratching the itch which awkwardly caused it to tear and need stitches (I know men reading this are cringing at the thought ...!) Anyway to cut a long traumatic story short he got popped into a nappy / diaper for a few weeks which has allowed everything to heal. Poor Wookie!
Ok so there are a few new characters who I need to introduce you to... baby time!! First comes Oprah. She is a Mateo look-a-like who couldn't be more like Oprah Winfrey herself. She came from Monteverde as we closed the new sanctuary and can be constantly found clinging to her yellow hippo stuffy in the nursery. Massive cutey!
Next came Bindi - she is a little 3-fingered baby from the Pacific coast with a funny little fluffy hair-do. She was found on the ground and with Judy's careful instructions (including finding a real life goat to collect milk from) she was cared for by a woman for the next 3 weeks until someone could get over there to bring her back.
Finally, we have Luigi ! He was brought in clinging to his dying mom and must have only been a day old. His mom passed away shortly after arriving here, and it turned out she had one normal lung, and one tiny underdeveloped lung. Sadly, the stress of giving birth probably pushed her over the edge. Little Luigi is doing great though :)
Now for a new un-slothly arrival .... Puggles ! His/her full official title is actually - Puggles the Mexican, drawf, short-haired, prehensile-tailed tree porcupine. Quite a mouthful! And she is quite a handful too, although cant be sure of the she part since we have no idea how to sex a Puggles. There is potentially even less info available on these guys than there is on sloths which is making raising her a little challenging, and also her spines are turning out challenging to avoid too. However she has these funny little back feet that stick out sideways and are a little too big giving her this comic waddle and she runs havoc. She is awesomeee !!
I have mentioned Eddie the dog in one of my previous posts (the one who got run over by a truck and didn't even break a bone), but anyway he has had quite an eventful few months. One dark stormy night he went down to his usual spot of the lagoon to have a quiet drink when he unfortunately bumped into Coco the crocodile.... Now most dogs would have been mince-meat when faced with a 16-foot hungry beast, but not Eddie. In the morning, all we could see was a blood trail leading from the lagoon up to the house, and Eddie with a limp and tiny cut across his paw . It took a good few hours before we accidentally came across a HUGE hole in his side... then another one... and another. Then after further investigation, we found his canine tooth in the water and claw marks in the concrete leading down to the edge! To this day we have no idea what happened except the croc got a hold of him and Eddie probably bit back scaring him off, but losing a tooth in the process. This had a happy ending though with Eddie recovering super quick and not bathing in the lagoon anymore to cool off (no more stinky-ness!) What an amazing dog - he really does have a cats 9 lives!
Also this month, Randy was finally released. He is the three-fingered male I have mentioned in previous posts - the one who fell from a tree and broke his arm which needed surgery and titanium screws to fix. After a long 7 months with us, he took back to the tree like he had never been away. Hopefully he will come back to visit every now and again to show us how he is doing.
Before his release, he had some very important work to do though. He was the sloth ambassador, helping ICE (telecommunication people) and MINAE (ministry for the environment in Costa Rica) design a device to stop sloths from climbing the power lines and getting electrocuted! He did a fantastic job of proving just how flexible they are and made them all go back to the drawing board to come up with a better design. Randy 1-0 ICE
Now I will do a quick round up of other news including installing a new misting system to cool the sloths off on the super hot days (maybe we will get green algae sloths?) Also, I had a pregnancy scare with one of my study sloths, but after an x-ray it turns out she just has gas, great. Animal Planet have been back filming some more for the documentary... its going to be amazing so keep your eyes peeled. And some amazing news - Buttercup has started coming into heat again after 8 months of being unwell... she is back!! And she even remembered to do the trade-mark thing only she does when she screams - she hooks and folds her arm up over her head and holds her chin - covering both ears ! She is well and truly back to her best! More good news is that the wild 3-fingered mom and baby are still hanging round and doing great, although baby is getting big now! I have added some pictures so you can see :)
Me and Phil Stebbing, filming for Animal Planet:
Mom and baby: