Last December, we received a call from MINAE informing us that they were bringing us an orphaned sloth.
It had been found lying in a stream high up on the Turrialba Volcano, calling loudly for its mother. A search of the surrounding area led them to conclude that its mother was nowhere nearby, so it had to be removed for hand-rearing. The poor thing resembled a sopping wet bear with its thicker-than-average fur. As a matter of fact, MINAE had never recorded a sloth at that high an altitude.
When it arrived at our facility, it was still cold and wet, and we took it into our clinic to warm it up and assess its health. We determined her to be a female of about 5 months. She was not only wet, but she was also covered in volcanic ash. While her general health was good, we knew that we had to x-ray her to see if she had ash in her lungs. Volcanic ash is finely ground glass, and we were very concerned that if this were present in her lungs, she could possibly have bad respiratory problems. Fortunately, her lungs turned out to be clear and her health was good.
During her first couple of weeks, she had to be kept separate from our other sloth orphans because we couldn’t risk them inhaling any of the ash still clinging to her fur. Due to her traumatic start, a bath was out of the question.
After a few weeks of adjustment, she came around and accepted those of us who fed her milk, as well as her fellow baby sloths. She’s now a happy well-adjusted sloth who resembles an Ewok. She has recently been weaned and will soon be taking her next step to being a wild sloth once again.
– Written by Denise Gillen, Toucan Rescue Ranch Sloth Nanny
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.