© Suzi Eszterhas

How can I get a job with sloths?

13 Jan

“Your job is amazing”, “How can I get a job like that?”, “I want to be a sloth scientist”

These are the usual responses I get when I tell people that I’m a sloth researcher. Granted, I love what I do, but unfortunately I have to correct the situation rather quickly – a ‘job’ would suggest I get a wage. Since embarking on this wild and wonderful journey almost 7 years ago, I haven’t been paid once. Everything that I do, every day, is a labour of love. But how did I get here? How do I survive? and… why on earth do I do it? From here on out I am going to be brutally honest about my life. The good, the bad and the ugly. I get a lot of emails – from people of all ages and from all walks of life – who are genuinely thinking about following in my barely-there footsteps, wanting to know the next steps to take. I fully applaud anyone who is brave enough to consider quitting their day job to pursue something that they are passionate about, but first I think it’s only fair to give a realistic account of this lifestyle away from the fluffy, filtered stuff that you see on social media. Read the rest of this post »

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For the Love of Sloths…

25 May

If you love sloths and want to help these beautiful animals stay in the wild – now is your chance! We only have 5 days left to raise funds for the future of sloth conservation. This is your last opportunity to help us launch the Sloth Conservation Foundation (SloCo) – a registered non-profit organisation that will be dedicated to saving sloths in the wild through research and conservation initiatives. Click here for more information!

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IMG_5232

I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who supported our original campaign to fund essential research into sloth genetics – we hit our $5000 target within 12 days! Because we still have 6 weeks left before the campaign ends, I have decided to take this opportunity to fund raise for the future of sloth conservation. I have been living, breathing, and working with sloths for 6 years now, and although I have met many passionate people along the way who are all dedicating their lives to protecting these wonderful animals, I believe that there is something very important missing: unity.

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albino2

The Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica have now received 9 orphaned baby sloths showing birth defects. The affected sloths were all C.hoffmanni infants originating from the Limon province on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica. The deformities have all been strikingly similar; missing fingers/toes, malformed ears, misshapen limbs and partial or full albinism. High numbers of birth defects like this in any population are a warning sign that something is seriously wrong. I suspect that the deformities we are seeing are the direct result of either extensive habitat fragmentation, or the excessive use of pesticides for agriculture. However, before we can develop any targeted conservation strategies, we have to identify and fully understand the root cause of the problem – and that means completing the necessary genetic research.

You might remember that last year I ran a successful Indiegogo campaign to fund urgent research into the genetic health of wild sloth populations. As a result, I was able to collect data and hair samples from over 300 wild-born sloths (both two-fingered C.hoffmanni and three-fingered B.variegatus) originating from over 97 different regions in Costa Rica. This is a far larger sample size than has ever been studied before and it will undoubtedly provide us with the answers that we need. Unfortunately, however, I once again need to ask for your help in order to complete the final stage of this urgent research.

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pygmy2

Sloth populations across South and Central America, like many other animals, are under threat from unprecedented levels of habitat loss. There is no way to escape the fact that 1-2 acres of rainforest land are cleared every single second. That means that in the time it has taken you to read this sentence, 8 more acres of rainforest have disappeared. Think how many sloths (among all of the other wildlife) would have been living in those 8 acres? It’s quite frankly alarming to say the least – up to 137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every single day due to rainforest destruction.
But what are the driving factors behind the massive amounts of deforestation? And what can we do about it? Can we even make a difference as individuals? The answer is yes.

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Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth Bradypus variegatusMale (covered in algae) Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica*Digitally removed piece of wood in background

Why are sloths so slow?

19 Jan

When you imagine a sloth, you probably think of a simple, lazy creature that does very little other than sleep all day. In fact, you might wonder how such an animal survives in the wild at all. Even the very name “sloth” in most languages translates as a version of lazy. In 1749 when sloths were first described in the scientific literature they were labelled as “the lowest form of existence” – it is little surprising that sloths have been subject to such profound speculation and misinterpretation; “sloths are slow because they eat leaves that drug them”; “sloths are so stupid that they mistake their own arm for a tree branch and, grabbing it, fall”; “if you cut the head off a sloth, the heart will continue to beat for 15 minutes……”. I have heard it all. But what does it really mean to be a sloth? Why are they so slow? And why does it work?

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