You may have read Toucan Rescue Ranch’s previous article in May about an orphaned two-fingered sloth, Bon Jovi.
His was a sad tale of a poor little sloth, taken from his mother to become part of the illegal pet trade. Sadly, this is becoming more of a problem for sloths – an even bigger threat than predation. They may appear to be cute, fuzzy, and cuddly in photos and videos, so people imagine that they would make wonderful pets, but they aren’t. Trust us. These are wild animals. They are solitary and have no interest in interacting with humans or other animals, for that matter. They don’t even want to be around fellow sloths once in the wild.
Bon Jovi was one of the lucky victims of the illegal pet trade. The person who bought him from an unscrupulous individual realized the error of her ways fairly quickly and did the right thing by contacting MINAE (a wildlife governing agency) and turning him over so that he could come to a licensed wildlife rescue facility, the Toucan Rescue Ranch, where he would get a second chance at a free life.
Bon Jovi arrived at the Toucan Rescue Ranch a year ago this month. The previous article written about him tells his story in more detail, but we’ll give a quick summary: When he arrived, he was a mess. He had horrible diarrhea and parasites, and cried constantly for attention. Devoted caretakers spent each night with him, all while feeding the other tiny babies in our care.
Things improved once he received a clean bill of health and could join the other orphaned baby sloths. For several weeks, however, he still wanted more attention than the other orphans, which had us a bit concerned. This was not typical behavior for a sloth, and we felt that he just missed his real mom. We made a concerted effort not to pay a lot of attention to him when he wanted us to do so, because we knew that for him to survive in the wild, we had to practice tough love.
He eventually bonded with the others and started showing more natural sloth behaviors. We breathed a big sigh of relief. All of our hand-reared sloths revert to wild behaviors as adults, so we weren’t too concerned, but we were happy to see him following the same pattern nonetheless.
Now, a whole year later, we have a beautiful adolescent sloth who is very annoyed when we take him out of his enclosure to let him spend the day in the large beach almond tree in the rehab area for tree climbing and leaf-munching practice. He has no interest in interacting with us but still has a bond with the other youngsters, while they too await their transfer to the Release Site in Sarapiquí, Costa Rica.
Once there, they will be living in large pre-release enclosures, until the day that a large panel is slid open and Bon Jovi and the others venture out, radio collars transmitting, starting the journey toward being an independent and wild sloth. Stay tuned for updates.
We just love a happy ending – don’t you?
— Denise Gillen is an Animal Rescue Volunteer at Toucan Rescue Ranch.
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.