Cahuita, Costa Rica – May 19, 2016
Claims of sloth abuse and misappropriation of funds have been levelled against the Sloth Sanctuary by former veterinary interns, spouses Camila Dünner and Gabriel Pastor. A tabloid-style “exposé” was published on May 19th by the online outlet “The Dodo”. The Sloth Sanctuary categorically denies the allegations and states that the article’s photos, captions and content have been fabricated and manipulated with photographs being used out of context by the couple.
Drs. Dünner and Pastor, from Chile and Uruguay respectively, were with the Sloth Sanctuary for 10 months. This was Dr. Dünner’s first professional assignment out of veterinary school. The veterinary interns were profiled in the Sanctuary newsletter and appeared on television in their professional roles and never expressed any criticism of the Sanctuary.
Due to increasing interpersonal conflicts with personnel, the couple made clear their desire to leave the Sanctuary in March 2016; however, they requested to stay on for two months to wrap up work in progress. At this juncture, they began to craft a calculated attack on the Sloth Sanctuary. After demanding monetary compensation for their “copyrighted” release initiative—compiled while working at the Sanctuary—they were asked to leave as soon as possible and not stay the entire two months. Their strategic revenge began when they removed invaluable biological samples that were Sanctuary property, claiming the samples belonged to them. The Sanctuary asked for the samples to be returned, but the couple would not release them. The Sloth Sanctuary refused their demands for money and reported their actions to Costa Rican authorities. They then began to publicly threaten to shut down the Sanctuary by a sustained smear campaign.
MINAE, the Ministry of Environment, which oversees the Sanctuary and all other rescue centers in Costa Rica, has inspected the facility twice in the past three weeks, addressing the complaints presented to them by Drs. Dünner and Pastor. The MINAE findings report is due to be released in the near future and the Sanctuary is poised to make any corrections deemed necessary. The Sloth Sanctuary acknowledges that there are always areas for improvement, but claims of neglect, abuse and misappropriation of donated funds are categorically false and intended to slander and discredit Judy Avey-Arroyo’s 25 years of dedication to the sloths of Costa Rica.