The release of Ross

by Sloth Sanctuary on 09/20/2015

Ross in pre-release treeThe single most gratifying act at the Sanctuary is the release of a rescued, rehabilitated sloth. Take Ross, for example, brought to us on August 5th by a compassionate and swift-acting family in Filadelfia, Beverly, Limon. They had spotted a Choloepus in distress, limply hanging by one arm, entangled in a barbed wire fence. They delicately placed the sloth in a laundry basket and drove it to the Sanctuary, naming it Rosita along the way. Sanctuary veterinarians Dra. Camila Dünner Oliger and Dr. Gabriel Pastor Nicolai assessed it, determined it to be a juvenile male and revised his name to Ross.

Ross was in shock and severely dehydrated, probably from suffering on the barbe1.A-Ross-FB-post-in-bandages_092015d wire for more that 24 hours. His entire right arm was bruised, swollen and infected. The vets had to anesthetize him to clean, treat and bandage his wounds. They prescribed an intensive regimen of anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, vitamins and immune stimulants. He required weekly dressing changes with a total of five anesthesia sessions until his arm had fully healed and he was ready for rehabilitation. He regained strength and mobility in his arm during consistent and regular climbing practice, then it was time for his pre-release test.

We have a special Almond Tree (Two-fingered sloths’ fave leaves) enclosure along the river where it’s easy to observe a pre-release candidate. Ross did great! He climbed up naturally, then hung out for a while, enjoying the familiar environment of a tree. He showed us he was ready for complete freedom.2-Ross-FB-post_Judy-oversees-release_092015

So we returned him to his habitat in Beverly because of his knowledge of his mother’s home range. We noted an abundance of trees and other wild sloths, which would give Ross the best chance for survival. Habitat fragmentation due to development is detrimental to sloths’ well-being. If they need to transfer to trees by crossing over barbed wire, power lines or areas with guard dogs, injury or death is highly likely. We were satisfied with Ross’ enthusiasm as he climbed into a big Poró tree. On our way back, we saw a mother and baby sloth way6-Ross-FB-post-C-and-G-tree-1_092015 up in the canopy. Was she Ross’ mother, perhaps? Muddy, sweaty, insect-bitten—it was all worth it for us, knowing Ross was back home.    7-Ross-FB-post_And-he-is-off_092015

Sloth veterinary care and surgery

by Sloth Sanctuary Costa Rica on 08/30/2015

Lupe 3-during-abdom-surgery_082015We have the duty to act for the welfare of any animal that comes to our hands. Even more so if this animal was put in that condition due to the impact that we, human beings, may have caused direct or indirectly. Without knowing, [this little sloth] will contribute to generate more and better knowledge, directly about veterinary care, and indirectly in the conservation of this wonderful species.”—from our vet team, Camila & Gabriel

This week we bring you an essential side of the Sanctuary that the public does not frequently see: sloth veterinary care and surgery. We know you enjoy photos of sweet smiling sloths, but the reality is, when sloths are rescued due to injury or abuse, they often need immediate medical intervention upon arrival.

This is the story of Guadalupe, or Lupe for short, a tiny baby Choloepus. Our husband-and-wife veterinary team, Dr. Gabriel Pastor Nicolai and Dra. Camila Dünner Oliger were not advised of how Lupe was found or what had happened to her, but she was taken by her rescuers to MINAE Headquarters (Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía/Ministry of Environment and Energy), who then brought her to the Sanctuary.

After a first checkup, it was clear that she was in critical condition. Lupe was in a very large cardboard box with nothing in it but her. She was icy-cold (hypothermic—dangerously low body temperature), clutching her body with arms and legs due to the pain. She also presented extreme dehydration for the lack of food and water and was tympanic (severe gastrointestinal bloat and distended abdomen). That general discomfort caused her to curl into herself, hookLupe 2-receiving-hydration-through-bone_082015ing by accident one of the fingernails in her eye-socket. We don’t know how long she was with her fingernail embedded in the socket, but thankfully it didn’t damage her eye!

The vet team immediately began an intensive fluid therapy through the knee bone, since her veins were too small, that lasted for just over 10 hours. Then they catheterized her stomach to release the accumulated air (45 ml/1.5 oz!) due to the lack of food ingestion and began a pharmacologic therapy with an analgesic, an anti-foaming agent and a gastric transit promoter. She improved for a day but her abdomen dilated again and she was still in severe pain. In a second attempt to relieve her, what the catheter extracted surprisingly was urine! Not air, and in an anatomical region where the stomach is supposed to be. They then knew it was time to act.

Lupe 4-in-surgery_082015In the absence of an X-ray machine and an ultrasound, the vets—in the middle of training students from the Escuela de Medicina y Cirugía Veterinaria San Francisco de Asís—decided to attempt an exploratory surgery. What they found was impressive: a distended bladder that used at least 50% of the abdomen! This condition caused it to paralyze and block urination and defecation. After emptying more than 190 ml/6.3 oz. of urine, it was encouraging to see how healthy the stomach and intestines were.

At this time, Lupe is improving and, although very lethargic, is beginning to eat again. The vets have been giving her blended leaves and goat milk, which is easier to break own in her stomach. Lupe has been given the best possible care available at the Sloth Sanctuary. Now it’s up to Mother Nature to determine if she will survive … and thrive.

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Earth Day 2015 Commemorative Plaques are on display

30 August 2015

The Earth Day 2015 donor plaques have been unveiled! Judy Avey-Arroyo partnerd with our woodworking wizard, Donald, to create these onsite at the Sanctuary, where the triptych is now on display. We are humbled by our donors’ generosity and support of our organization and, foremost, our mission of sloth rescue, rehabilitation, research and release-and the […]

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Choloepus graduation day

30 August 2015

It’s back-to-school in many countries, but in our little corner of Costa Rica, seven rescued Choloepus sloths just graduated from the Sanctuary’s NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) to our Juvenile Nursery. An infant sloth cannot regulate its own body temperature for several months. In the wild, the mother protects the baby and keeps it warm […]

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Conservationist Jeff Corwin

22 May 2015

Earlier this week we were honored to welcome celebrity conservationist and “Ocean Mysteries” host Jeff Corwin at the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica. Read about Jeff’s visit and see videos with some of our sweet-faced rescued baby Choloepus sloths on Jeff Corwin’s Facebook page and his Twitter feed. Muchas gracias to Jeff for stopping by […]

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Funding for incubators

3 May 2015

In our NICU, we currently have a record 28 orphaned baby sloths that require round-the-clock care. Each baby sloth needs to be syringe-fed goat milk every 4 hours. We begin offering them leaves after their first week. We are at 100% occupancy and so need funds for additional incubators ASAP! If you’ve been considering supporting […]

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Tagging our first wild Two-fingered sloth

23 February 2015

Original report by Becky Cliffe; edited to fit our blog. I had been trying to tag a wild Two-fingered sloth since beginning the Sloth Backpack Project, but equipment failures, injuries and escapee-sloths stood in my way. I finally managed to do this in November, although it was no easy task! I first spotted her in […]

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Mr. Bojangles

6 October 2014

Over the past 10 weeks I have been battling to regain my health after being diagnosed with Leishmaniasis – and as a result, progress with the Sloth Backpack Project has been somewhat slow. This week my luck finally changed, and for the first time in a long time I was able to return to the jungle. As […]

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Sloth Release Program

17 August 2014

Do you have a sloth release program?   Many of the rescued sloths that are brought to us are adults that have been injured by dogs, power lines, cars, etc., a result of human encroachment into the sloth’s habitat. These sloths are quarantined and accessed for injuries and illnesses by our full-time veterinary staff. We […]

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Digital Microscope Donated to the Sloth Sanctuary

10 July 2014

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”- Margaret Mead This week we would like to shine the spotlight on one of our most dedicated supporters and followers, Lucy Strausbaugh. Lucy has been bringing small student groups from Notre Dame […]

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