Archive for the “Sloths” Category

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.


Read the rest of this post »

Although 2014 got off to a great start, it unfortunately didn’t end that way. The last few months before Christmas were plagued with disappointments, equipment failures and flesh-eating parasites - but as I have come to learn, that’s science! Things rarely work out as planned, and we have to be flexible in order to find creative solutions to unexpected problems as they arise. In November alone I had 4 backpacks fail due to technical issues, one completely disappeared overnight and the VHF transmitter on another died leaving me unable to track that sloth and his backpack full of data. Thankfully, since the beginning of 2015 things are finally looking up.


Read the rest of this post »

Last month, Sloth Sanctuary founder Judy and I travelled to Texas to visit the sanctuary’s sloth ambassadors currently living at the Dallas World Aquarium (DWA). Because three-fingered sloths are so notoriously difficult to maintain in captivity outside of their natural home range, I was interested to see how these sloths have adapted to living in a simulated rainforest environment in downtown Dallas!


Read the rest of this post »

It has been a rather un-slothful start to the new year, with a lot of progress being made on the sloth science front. Since Christmas, I have managed to tag an additional four wild sloths with tracking backpacks (including a mother with a baby!), and I am beginning to build up a nice picture of their ranging patterns, and perhaps most importantly, their diet.


Read the rest of this post »

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.


Read the rest of this post »

Madonna is the female three-fingered sloth with a baby that I tagged 3 months ago with a GPS tracking backpack. Whilst out in the forest this week searching for her, I began to receive very strange radio signals. Something was wrong. After a few hours of searching and hacking through the dense undergrowth, I stumbled across an interesting surprise…


Read the rest of this post »

For the last year we have been collaborating with Discovery/Animal Planet on a major eight-part series about our work here at the Sloth Sanctuary. We have filmed dramatic sloth rescues, emotional releases and all of the daily dramas associated with providing a home to over 100 orphaned and injured sloths. ‘Meet the Sloths’ also features a lighthearted look at some of our ground-breaking scientific research – this includes the beginning of the Backpack Project, discovering how sloths can swim and busting some common myths about sloth speed and digestion.


Read the rest of this post »

When we wake up every morning at the Sloth Sanctuary, we can never predict what the day is going to bring. Friday the 1st of November was certainly no exception. I had just emerged from the mosquito infested jungle after monitoring Madonna when we noticed a MINAET (environmental ministry) vehicle pull into the sanctuary. Our hearts sank. This could only mean one thing… a new sloth emergency.


Read the rest of this post »

Since giving birth to baby Jo-Jo, Madonna hasn’t moved from her favorite tree – this has made my job very easy! It doesn’t take me very long to locate her on my daily visits to the jungle. On one of these visits, I had a hair-raising moment. Having reached the base of Madonna’s tree, before I even had the chance to look upwards, I heard a terrifying crashing noise. Without a second thought my instincts kicked in and I began to run. Honestly I didn’t have a clue what I was running from, but I was running anyway! I only stopped when I heard a sickening thud; a thud that I have heard all too many times. This was the kind of thudding noise a sloth makes as it hits the ground.


Read the rest of this post »

At 10am on October 5th, I was trekking through the jungle trying to avoid the giant spiders whilst scanning the treetops for Madonna, the female sloth I have tagged with a backpack. I couldn’t see her anywhere.

With my neck getting stiff from staring upwards I was beginning to lose hope of finding her (even with GPS and radio transmitters telling me exactly where she is, it can be impossible to see her through the canopy sometimes!) Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move. It was Madonna and she had moved to a low down tree. She was acting strangely, and it didn’t take me long to figure out why. She was giving birth, right there in front of my nose, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I felt like laughing, screaming, crying and celebrating all at once. With shaking hands I grabbed for my camera and began trying to record what was happening. Unfortunately the gloomy jungle made photographs and videos difficult, but out of thousands that I took a few worked out well.


Read the rest of this post »