My Promise to Sloths

Blog entry written by Founder and sloth-mom Leslie Howle:

I just experienced one of the worst sloth rescues. I received a call from Janet, our chief veterinarian, about a mother sloth with a baby being viciously attacked by dogs in San Rafael of Heredia — about half an hour from the Toucan Rescue Ranch (TRR). She asked, “Can you help?” My response was, “Of course!” We got everything ready and Ana, our traveling veterinarian intern, and I rushed to our meeting place to receive the injured sloths.

A gentleman handed us a bucket with a large, wet and lethargic sloth curled up with the baby attached.  At first glance I thought oh good, mom is awake, and baby looks fine as well. We were told that mom had many bad wounds, so we rushed them back to our clinic at TRR.

The rescued mom.

Upon arrival we had two interns to help, Janet on speakerphone, and we started right away with an emergency check-up. The baby looked stable, so we passed her off to someone to warm up, as both sloths were sopping wet from the rainstorm. Mom had puncture wounds all over her back, her left arm was broken, and when we looked at her chest we all let out a gasp. There was a huge hole in her chest with a collapsed lung where internal hemorrhaging was taking place as we worked.

For over an hour, we provided oxygen, lots of medicines, vitamin K for the hemorrhage, dexamethasone, a breathing stimulant, and fluids. The veins were dry, so it was extremely difficult to get an IV in her arm or leg. Regardless, the medical team continued. Shortly after we discovered the mother also suffered from multiple broken ribs, her respiration stopped, heart stopped — but it didn’t matter. We were determined to do all we could for this fighter, so we continued.

Luckily, we got her heart back and placed a tube down into her lungs for breathing, but since both lungs were now failing there was nothing left to do but to watch in a panic as she faded away. Even though mom did not survive, our team worked together with immense focus and truly did everything we could.

(Thanks to donors support we have a great small clinic where we have saved many animal’s lives. However, it’s limited, and we do not have modern respirators or pressure valves for emergencies such as the sloth mother’s collapsed lungs.)

So, we turned our attention to the baby. We noticed she was making gurgling noises, yet alert and still responding. She drank Pedialyte, warmed up and rested. Apparently, the baby was separated from the mother when the people picked up the baby and kept it safe while they were trying to get the dogs off her mom.

I just keep thinking life is so short and so sad for these two animals. For this young baby there will be no more hugging mom high up in the trees and living in her embrace for a year. The bond was sadly broken, but luckily, I am here to watch over her baby.

This is my promise: Mom, I promise you I will do my best to keep your baby safe, warm and full, watch her grow and think of you when she makes progress to becoming an adult. We will work with our partners in the Saving Sloths Together (SST) to make sure this baby, and the other babies that we are caring for, will eventually return to the trees and the wild where they belong. Because it’s up to us, and we take our job seriously. These were the promises I made unspoken to mom and baby that night.

Please help us help sloths by donating to the Saving Sloths Together Project. Make your promise today by donating. We ensure you will be making a difference in the lives of these beautiful creatures who desperately need YOUR help. Learn more at Saving Sloths Together. 

Blog entry edited by Lyndsie Kiebert of Kiebert Edits 

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