Meet Leia and Ben Solo: two very special, very resilient sloths that were in Toucan Rescue Ranch’s care. This mother (Princess Leia) and son (Ben Solo) duo were first discovered after falling from the rainforest canopy, plunging 20 meters to the ground. And while little Ben Solo was thankfully unharmed, Mama Leia was left severely injured and unable to move.
Luckily, the owner of the property saw the horrific fall and rushed to their aid; he quickly notified rescuers at TRR and remained with the pair until help arrived. Leia, who was in a lot of pain, was aggressive. The owner, not knowing what to do, tied her to a barrel to prevent her from further hurting herself until help arrived. As it turns out, after the fall, Ben Solo had climbed back up into a nearby tree – making his rescue even more difficult. But unwilling to separate a mother from her son, TRR rescuers knew they had only one option: To climb after him!
Scaling the tree, the team was able to get Ben Solo down safely and reunited with his mom, who was waiting below. And together, they were transported back to TRR’s wildlife clinic to receive immediate treatment. Thankfully, little Ben Solo had no severe injuries and was overall, a healthy, alert, and responsive juvenile! During his time at Toucan Rescue Ranch, he was transferred to our Release Site where he fine-tuned his skills to live an independent life once put back into the wild.
Mama Leia, on the other hand, needed a bit more help. Unfortunately, the impact of the fall left her with a severely broken humerus – one that required emergency orthopedic surgery to fix. But during her pre-op tests, our vet team discovered some unexpected news: This little lady was pregnant, once again! And with one baby waiting for her to feel better and another one on the way, waiting was not an option. We needed to fix that arm!
The orthopedic surgery went as well as anyone could have hoped. Doctors placed a fixation with a pin to help set the injury, and Leia recovered smoothly. After nearly two months, the pins were finally removed! And even better news, ultrasounds indicated that her unborn baby was doing just as great!
On November 4, a small TRR team headed back to Leia and Ben’s original home. Side-by-side they sat in the back of the car, not knowing what awaited. Once we finally arrived, we headed near where they were originally found, in a beautiful forest with lots of trees, a creek, and plenty of shelter and food.
The first out of the kennel was Leia. She only took a few moments before she was reaching for the tree trunk and pulling herself out of her temporary home and into her permanent forested one. Extending her once-shattered arm above her head, pulling herself up and into the rainforest canopy. Only taking a few minutes, Leia was already resting far above the forest floor with her unborn baby.
Next was little Ben Solo. A bit sleepy from the ride and humid air, he took a little longer to find his way to the canopy. At first, he hid behind some vines to pretend as though he was the tree. However, TRR wanted to ensure his safety and patiently waited for him to build up the courage to climb high and join his mother. Even with the slow start, he gained momentum and was soon greeting his long-lost parent, so many meters above.
At first, we were not sure how they would react to one another. But we were all pleasantly surprised by their loving encounter. It was almost like a hi, hello, and I will see you around, mom! Both found a resting spot neighboring one another, and that’s when we knew our work was officially done for this sloth family.
A big thank you to Ben and Leia’s symbolic adopters for supporting them on their rescue, rehab, and release journey. Also, sending love to all those who donated to their CUDDLY crowdfunding campaign. You ALL helped us make this miracle story possible!
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.