Hanna and Ellie have been calling the shots of their newfound wild and free life. Hanna is an adventurous sloth brought to Toucan Rescue Ranch in March 2011 when she was found on the ground orphaned. Ellie, the more reserved of the two, was found in a sack covered in ticks as part of the animal trade.
Observing these two sloths making decisions and exploring their new home has been amazing! Both Hanna and Ellie have been seen eating natural leaves within the canopy, leaves we’ve seen wild sloths eating as well! We continue to put out some subsidized food to help them transition into an all-leaf diet, but the important thing is that they have a choice.
Ellie, the more cautious sloth, took one month to leave the cage and has taken a month in each new location to expand into her newfound territory. She tends to follow in the footsteps of her former cage mate, sleeping in all of Hanna’s older resting spots and following in Hanna’s tree routes. Although Ellie tends to choose her branches with care, she recently did her first “slingshot!” Here at the Release Site we call a “slingshot” move when a sloth pulls a higher branch of a nearby tree down so that they can move to the next tree. Once their weight shifts when the sloth has transitioned into the new tree, the branch snaps back to its original position and it looks like the sloth was flung with a slingshot! I have watched this technique with many more experienced sloths, both released and wild. I was proud to see our little Ellie learning how to get around the forest she now calls home.
Hanna, our more adventurous girl, was named after the famous boxer, Hanna Gabriels, and she seems to have taken after her namesake. Many times, Hanna puts up a fight during disagreements with her neighboring sloths. It is normal for there to be fighting amongst sloths, whether that be a territorial dispute or for another reason. Hanna holds her ground and blazes the trail for the rest of the sloths to one day be released at the the Release Site in Sarapiqui. Hanna has amazed us all with her navigation skills as she confidently climbs from tree to tree. She has a routine of areas in the forest that she likes to go to for her various favorite leaves and continues exploring the tree canopies.
Now, months later, after opening the cage doors, we will be closing the release doors once again, but this time we will be closing it to an empty cage. After observing that Hanna and Ellie no longer return to the cage seeking food or shelter, and seeing that they are sleeping high in the tree canopy and finding food, we feel confident they are doing well and no longer need the cage. Closing the release door is a big step — it means that the work put in to release the sloths is working. They are thriving in the forest, wild, and free. It’s a proud moment for everyone who has been a part of the Saving Sloths Together program.
Hanna and Ellie, continue to amaze us daily. Everything we’ve learned from them has enabled us to provide better care for the sloths awaiting release. They have paved the way for all future sloths to be released here at the Release Site and I look forward to many more days of observing these FREE sloths enjoying their best life.
Blog post and photos by Amanda Orens, SST Sloth Technician Supervisor | Edited by Lyndsie Kiebert of Kiebert Edits