A few weeks ago the Toucan Rescue Ranch and Saving Sloths Together Release Site team received a phone call.
“We found a baby sloth,” they said.
We immediately grabbed our emergency box, jumped into the car and went to meet this 450-gram, three-fingered baby sloth. This is the second call we got as a direct result of our community outreach program, where we visit all the homes around our release site to tell people who we are and what we do.
In honor of the person that coordinated the community outreach and education projects, leaving her footprint on this community and in our hearts, I named this baby three-fingered “Sarita.”
The property owners showed us exactly where they had found it. All the way up in a big Cecropia tree, around 40 meters high, they had seen three adult three-fingered sloths fighting in the morning. In some shrubs at the base of the tree, Sarita was crying. They waited for a while but nobody came for the baby, so they picked it up and called us.
When we arrived there were three sloths resting high in the canopy, and with a little ache in our heart, we picked Sarita out of her comfy blanket and let her cry for her mother. Soon there was movement up in the tree. One sloth started climbing, but we saw it was a male by his characteristic back patch. Soon a second one started moving, turning her head every time Sarita called for her, steadily moving down the tree.
Standing on some roots at the base of the tree, I held the baby as high as I could. As mom descended the final portion of the trunk, she decided to transfer to a tiny tree beside the Cecropia. As if it read her mind, Sarita also reached for this small tree with her little arm.
The small tree suddenly bent under the mom’s weight. Everybody gasped as the baby was yanked out of my reach, hanging off the tree with only one hand. Although relatively low, it would still have been more than a 3-meter fall. But Sarita held on, and with a smooth movement, mom picked her up and embraced her, smelling, sniffing and cuddling her.
This is the best outcome we could have hoped for. There are not many cases where we can locate the mom of a baby that has fallen down and reunite them. The most important people in this story are without a doubt the owners of the land, for being so attentive to the wildlife that lives on their property and for contacting us so soon.
The next morning we went back for a final check on Sarita, but she was already gone, off to learn the secrets of the jungle with her mother.
This article was produced by The Toucan Rescue Ranch. The Toucan Rescue Ranch specializes in helping wild animals recover so that they can be reintroduced into the wild. For more information or to donate, visit the Toucan Rescue Ranch website.