Kids Saving the Rainforest and Blue Banyan Inn: A Symbiotic Relationship

Blue Banyan Inn

Did you know that Kids Saving the Rainforest manages a Bed & Breakfast to help raise funds to save the rainforest and wildlife in the area? We realize that very few people do!  KSTR has been managing the Blue Banyan Inn (BBI) for over 3 years now!

BBI consists of 3 luxury cottages with a panoramic view of the mountains, a spectacular swimming pool, and a beautiful restaurant for daily breakfasts, just10 minutes from Maxi Pali, 15 minutes from Quepos and Marina and 30 minutes from the National Park/main beach.

Even more great news, BBI lets volunteers use the gorgeous swimming pool whenever they have down-time! Plus there is a great labyrinth and even a nursery that grows food for sloths.  Internet is great with a KSTR tower. BBI also lets KSTR use the kitchen and restaurant where the volunteers have a group lunch daily from 12 – 1:30 PM.

To make it even sweeter, BBI offers the B&B lobby as a greeting area for KSTR’s tours, a refreshment area after the tours, and has lent space for KSTR set up a store to raise money for the wildlife in their care. KSTR also has a volunteer center (that can sleep up to 18 people) on the property, for volunteers residing on the property.

You can’t ask for a more generous opportunity than that and KSTR is extremely grateful!

Blue Banyan Inn (BBI) is owned by a family who actually live on the property. So it is a win-win situation and Kids Saving the Rainforest wants to thank the Braman/Thompson family for their generosity. And a special thanks to Chip and Jennifer for having the KSTR Wildlife Sanctuary and Rescue Center location on their property. Learn more at bluebanyaninn.com

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Tales from the Wildlife Rescue Center

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Raising and Preparing a Kinkayou for a Life in the Wild
By Pia Martin DVM, KSTR Wildlife Vet

Kinkayous (Potos flavus) and in Spanish “Martillas”, are medium size mammals (40-55cms long, weighing 2-3kg), brownish colored from the Procyonid family. This means they are nocturnal, live in pairs or by themselves and are arboreal and terrestrial; just like raccoons (Procyon lotor) and coatis (Nasua narica). However, they have unique characteristics that make them very special in the rainforest. For example: although they are categorized as carnivores, they do not eat meat. Their diet is basically fruits, flowers, and rarely they will eat a bird’s egg or an insect. They have a 5 inch tongue that helps them get nectar from flowers making them pollinators. Their ankles and wrists can rotate more than most mammals helping them climb up and down trees and walk in branches easily. They also have a long prehensile tail that can wrap itself around a branch and hold on to most of the animal’s weight so it can hang and reach for a fruit in a lower branch.

They are endangered due to the loss of their habitat (deforestation, forest fragmentation, civilization), they were hunted for food in the past and also to use their coat as the bristles in paintbrushes. They are also caught and sold in the pet trade. Here in Manuel Antonio, kinkajous are common but difficult to observe since they only come out at night and stay mainly in the trees. Their main threats are electrocutions, being hit by cars, and attacks by dogs.

Last year we received a very small, furry animal with a huge head; small eyes and long tail. It was a newborn kinkajou found by a woman in Parrita who was walking towards her house and spotted him on the ground by himself. She gave him to MINAET and they brought him to us.

Raising a kinkajou is definitely a extraordinary situation. At first we had to syringe feed him formula with probiotics, and he slept all day and all night. As he was growing we changed to a bottle and started introducing fruits and veggies, and put him into a playpen with stuffed animals, branches, ropes, and live trees.

Now, that he feeds on his own, is very active at night, and he is starting to search for his independence, we are beginning to do a soft release. Every night, the animal caretaker and me, open his cage and let him come out. He follows us into the jungle, just like he would follow his mom. We are training him to explore the world, search for his food using his sense of smell, hide from predators or unknown noises and get away from people. We are letting him climb up very tall trees and develop strong muscles in his hind legs, forearms, and tail so that he will feel secure moving in the canopy of the trees. Every time he achieves a little challenge we give him a prize- a small piece of grape or really sweet mango. It is difficult since we have to do it at night and we are always looking out for snakes and also afraid that he might run away before he is ready and that we will not be able to catch him.

But for the time being, he is still used to us so he is not leaving yet; but when the time comes and he knows how to find food, shelter, and company, he will leave and follow his instinct. We just need to prepare him well to survive and reproduce in the rainforest, just as he was meant to be; free and happy.

Rainforest Facts

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Did you know that…
Rainforests are primarily defined by two factors: where they are found on the earth and the amount of rainfall they receive. Rainforests are typically found in tropical locations and receive from 160-315 inches of rain per year.

There are 3.4 million square miles of tropical forest around the equator and while rainforests cover only 2% of the Earth’s surface or 6% of its landmass, they house over ½ of the plant and animal species on Earth.

•    Costa Rican rainforests contain:
•    850 kinds of birds
•    100 species of dragonflies
•    729 types of butterflies
•    205 kinds of mammals
•    10,000 different varieties of plants

There are at least 3000 types of fruits in the rainforest including: avocados, coconuts, figs, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, bananas, guavas, pineapples, mangos, and tomatoes.
Vegetables include: corn, potatoes, rice, winter squash, yams · Spices include: black pepper, cayenne, chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, sugar cane, turmeric, coffee, and vanilla.

The US National Cancer Institute has identified 3000 plants that are active against cancer cells. 70% of these plants are found in the rainforest.

Despite these benefits…

Rainforests are being destroyed at a staggering rate. According to the National Academy of Science, at least 50 million acres a year are lost, an area the size of England, Wales, and Scotland combined.

An average of 137 species of life forms are driven into extinction every day in the world’s tropical rainforests due to things such as logging and cattle ranching which are destroying the trees and the animals’ homes.

On average, rainforest destruction includes:
•    64 acres/minute · 3,800 acres/hour · 93,000 acres/day
•    2,800,000 acres/month
•    33,800,000 acres/year

KSTR is trying to help stop the destruction.  You can help us to do so!  Stop by our store adjacent to the Hotel Mono Azul and do your souvenir shopping while helping to save the rainforest.  100 % of the proceeds go to save the rainforest!

Sloth Diaries: A day of first and miracle births by KSTR Wildlife Manager Sam Trull

Two days ago, miraculously, I participated in something that was most likely a world first: the successful c-section of a three-toed sloth baby.  I want to share this story for others—here it is  from my point of view:

A week ago we received an adult female three toed sloth at the KSTR wildlife rescue clinic.  The sloth was brought by a young man who worked for a local hotel.  He witnessed her fall from a tree.  After trying to help her get back up and climb to her safety, he realized something more was wrong and called us for help.  At first sight this sloth captivated my heart…she was having a seizure, but I swear we made eye contact and instantly I was hooked.  At the time this was the first sloth seizure I had ever seen and true to sloth nature, it was a ‘slow’ seizure.  It was more like a neurotic tick than a typical seizure seen in human and non-human primates.  Upon examination I determined that she had not fractured her skull (yay!) and that she was pregnant (not so yay).
 After speaking with our vet, I started her medications and of course supportive care.  Now it became a waiting game.  A few days later she wasn’t looking much better.  Her eyes were bright and her lungs sounded good, she just wasn’t moving much and still had some rigidity to her limbs.  Her prognosis was not good and euthanasia was even discussed.  I’ve seen a lot of animals pass away during the two years that I’ve worked in wildlife rescue here in Costa Rica and after each death I often think, “how can I keep doing this?  It’s too hard” but somehow I find the will to keep fighting.  That day, I wanted to keep fighting for this mom and her unborn baby, my gut told me not to give up.  Two days later mom started to show signs of labor.  I’ve never seen a sloth have contractions, but these ‘painful moments’ where her entire body seemed to be cramping and her arms reached out for anything to squeeze…really seemed like contractions to me!  So I started documenting when they started and when they ended.  But I couldn’t help but wonder if she could successfully have the baby with her prior injuries?  Was a difficult pregnancy why she fell in the first place?  The contractions were all over the place.
 There was no real pattern.  After 24 hours of documenting her pain, she had an hour-long contraction, that was so intense, multiple times I thought at any moment her vagina would start to open and a head would crown.  However, the contraction ended and still no baby.  It became obvious to me that more diagnostics were needed in order to determine how best we could help this momma.
Luckily, Volunteer, Sloth lover and friend; Seda Sejud serendipitously showed up to visit our newly built “Sloth Bootcamp”.  But when I saw her I immediately asked, “Would you be able to take me and this Momma sloth to a vet about an hour from here?  I think she is in labor and needs help.”  Seda responded with a quick “yes” and off we went!
We arrived at Veterinarian Yesse Alpizar, in Herradura.  I’ve taken other patients to Yesse before.  She is one of the kindest and smartest vets I’ve met and she also happens to have a clinic equipped with a digital X-ray and ultrasound machine.   After getting a complete history on momma sloth, Yesse examined her and agreed with me that she was in labor.  We first took an X-ray.  It was amazing to see the little life inside of mom’s belly…but unfortunately the baby was in a breech position and mom was completely full of urine and feces (sloths can hold up to 30% of their body weight in urine/feces) meaning that the baby changing position wasn’t likely.  At this point, c-section was discussed but we needed to check the baby with an ultrasound to confirm a heartbeat and the exact position.  With the first swipe of the ultrasound probe, we didn’t see a heartbeat.  My heart sank.  Just one day before I had felt the baby move inside of mom’s belly.  So I knew that recently it was alive and I could only hope that it still was.  Yesse kept swiping the probe around mom’s belly searching and searching for a tiny flicker of the heart.  Was the baby still alive?!?
Luckily, I brought my camera…
                                          csection pic 1Momma sloth, patiently laying there for the ultrasound.  Because of mom’s previous injuries she wasn’t able to fight much but we made every effort to keep her comfortable.
ultrasound mamma sloth
Baby had a heartbeat!
xray mamma sloth
Xray showed that baby was breeched.
csection pic 2 After some deliberation and consultation with other vets, the decision to perform a c-section was made.  To our knowledge this may likely be the first ever c-section on a wild three toed sloth.
csection pic 3 Because sloths can lose up to 30% of their body weight with one ‘visit to the toilet’, their bladders get REALLY big and can fill up their abdominal cavity.  Surgeons had to remove over 100mls of urine from her bladder before they could reach the uterus.
csection pic 4     Dr Yesse located the uterus easily and began to extract the baby.
csection pic 5    Baby was completely out and already trying to breathe!
csection pic 6Doctors work quickly to try and remove any fetal fluids restricting the baby’s airway.
csection pic 7     Working quickly to get baby clean and warm.
csection pic 8 Removing intrauterine tissues from between her claws.
csection pic 9Baby exploring her new world.
csection pic 10Mom receiving oxygen after the operation.
Me holding baby after birth
 Me holding baby immediately after surgery to increase her body temperature.  This method is called “skin to skin” and is used in human babies as a quick and effective way to reverse hypothermia which is a common complication in c-section births.  (Photo by Seda Sejud)
Baby 2 days later                                                                                                     Baby two days later
mom and baby two days later    Mom and baby snuggle three days after operation.
Both patients are still in critical condition fighting for their lives. Everyday I wake up (if I have been able to sleep) so grateful for the work I get to do here in the rainforest of Costa Rica. Sloth care requires a lot of patience, commitment, care and disappointment. We are hoping to eliminate much of the disappointment with the work we are doing. Send good thoughts.
Please visit us here to find out how you can help:  www.theslothinstitutecostarica.org and www.kidssavingtherainforest.org