Power Lines Shock Sloth

by Sloth on 12/03/2013

Operation Sloth Rescue

It’s never easy when we get a phone call at the sanctuary telling us that a sloth needs our help. On this occasion, we were told that a beautiful two-fingered sloth had been electrocuted on the power lines and was in trouble. The gentleman told us he would collect the sloth and bring her to the sanctuary – but he never arrived. We assumed the worst had happened and that she hadn’t survived. We were wrong.

Injured slothThree days later, we received another phone call. The sloth was still alive and desperately needed medical attention. Not wanting to waste another second, we jumped into my little car and drove 45 minutes to where the electrocuted sloth was last spotted. It didn’t take us long to find her, and she was in a terrible state. She had apparently climbed onto the electric wires and the shock she received knocked out the power in the surrounding area. She had fallen to the ground and after regaining consciousness, crawled across the ground and up the nearest almond tree. The fire service had been called out to collect her, but after seeing the extent of her injuries they apparently decided she wasn’t worth rescuing because she wouldn’t survive. Three days later when we arrived she was still surviving, proving everyone wrong.

4-600x400We have known for a long time just how tough sloths are, and it’s sometimes hard to describe. I think this story demonstrates perfectly. The electricity had passed though the sloths’ left arm and out of her nose. Her skin had been burnt off and her eyes were completely sealed shut. We quickly anaesthetised her and put her safely into a travel crate for the journey back to the sanctuary. Just before we left, we were alerted to another sloth emergency. Barely 10 meters away, another two-fingered sloth was snoozing on top of an electricity meter. He was inches away from electrocuting himself. We took the decision to relocate him away from the dangers of the city and release him into the large protected forest surrounding the sanctuary. Having initially come to rescue one sloth, we left with two. They were fondly named Jack and Jill.

6-600x400Once back at the sanctuary, we released Jack into a large almond tree in our soft release enclosure to observe his movements and ensure he had no injuries. Everything was fine and so he was released into the surrounding forest (well away from power lines)!

We immediately set to work treating Jill’s injuries. After a lot of attention, careful monitoring and countless bandage changes, I am delighted to report that Jill appears to be doing great. The skin on her face is healing well, her eyes have opened and her arm is slowly healing. She still has a long way to go but she has a ferocious appetite for almond leaves, a sweet personality and a strong will to survive – all of the essential ingredients for a full recovery! Hopefully she will soon be joining Jack out in the forest and away from electricity wires.

It’s a sad story (hopefully with a happy ending), but unfortunately this is the reality of the situation we face here in Costa Rica. The Sanctuary has rescued countless sloths over the past 20 years who have been electrocuted, and not all of them survive. Sloths do not adapt well to an urban environment. They have evolved over 64 million years making them perfectly designed for a quiet life in the rainforest, but we are encroaching on their habitat much faster than they can adapt. The key to a successful future lies in education and raising awareness of these issues. We desperately need to protect what remains of their habitat and develop conservation strategies to ensure humans and wildlife can coexist, side by side, with minimal disturbance. Sloths are having their (well deserved!) moment in the spotlight right now, and we all need to take advantage of this popularity to raise awareness of the more serious challenges we face.
I will keep you updated on Jill’s amazing progress towards a full recovery!
Becky x

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

William December 3, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Thank you for all you do! Sending love from California.


Caroline Huxtable December 3, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Fingers crossed for Jill, I’m sure with your wonderful care she will eventually make it back to her wild life in the forest.


Veronica Alexander December 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm

What happened to those nerf ball type things that you invented to prevent the sloths from climbing onto the powerlines? Last I heard you had finally found a shape that worked without interference while attached to the line. And I thought I learned the power co was enthusiastic about cooperation in using thethem. This article kills me. It makes me want to jump on a plane and go help some how (California).


Brooke Adams December 3, 2013 at 6:00 pm

awwwwww so sad. i cant imagain what that must feel like for a poor sloth to have that musch electricite to run through it :(


anne December 3, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Thank you for all your wonderful work! Jill is in excellent hands! Please continue to share updates!


Rebecca December 8, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Saving this sloth is a miracle and it shows your dedication and commitment
to these beautiful creatures. I admire and love from afpar in Ohio the
Sanctuary, the Sloths, and your whole team.Here’s to Jill’s safe recovery, and
a hug and wave to Buttercup.
All my love,


Sloth December 29, 2013 at 8:53 am

Thanks Rebecca for visiting our website and caring about Jill, Buttercup and all the other sloths!


SillyLittleSheep December 24, 2013 at 3:49 pm

The job that you all do is wonderful, thank you so much for saving and caring for these lovely creatures. The post is greatly written, these harmless animals need our help, as our population is pushing itself into their so far safe homes. I hope once I can join you in helping the sloths, no matter for how short period of time that may be. Good luck with helping the sloths in the New Year to you all!!!


Sloth December 29, 2013 at 8:44 am

Thanks Veronika. Happy New Year to you too!


Luke February 3, 2014 at 8:54 am

Touching story! Glad to know Jill is in good hands now :) Well done all at the sanctuary. One day I’d love to visit!


Brenda April 4, 2014 at 6:54 am

Have only just discovered this article about the sloth sanctuary and am so sorry that, yet again, we are hearing about de-forestation. It is so wrong – we are losing everything in our world that is worth living for. It is the same with the elephants and rhinos, once they are gone they are gone forever. I am sorry to say that, until the governments have a heart for their wildlife heritage it is a constant battle. Perhaps the government would help more if tourism (especially the wildlife sanctuaries) brought in big money. But I thank God for you all at the sloth sanctuary and all your hard work.
God bless you and all the beautiful sloths .


Andrea Bach-y-Rita May 3, 2014 at 11:36 pm

Heartbreaking that so many sloths are injured this way. Thank you so much for everything you do for these amazing animals!


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