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 
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Nature’s Miracle Orphans filmed by the BBC at KSTR

Back story of the filming of Nature’s Miracle Orphans
by Sam Trull, KSTR Wildlife Manager & Primatologist

After learning that KSTR was chosen as the Costa Rican Rescue Center to be featured in the BBC series, “Natures Miracle Orphans”, Hannah, one of our returning volunteers, and I literally ran screaming from the wildlife center and jumped fully-clothed into the pool, pausing only to remove our phones from our pockets. Somehow this gesture seemed like a perfect way to express our pure excitement about this wonderful opportunity; plus, let’s face it, we were really hot and sweaty because we live in the jungle. Read about BBC’s Nature’s Miracle Orphans Show airing mid-August

Ellen, Kermie and Pelota, 2 toed sloths: Pelota living completely outdoors with Kermie and Ellen and soon will be in the Pre-release enclosure. We're raising money for GPS collars, post release monitoring of all three.

With almost 8 weeks of filming, participating in this series was a huge time commitment. However, towards the end of it, I found myself wishing it wasn’t going to be over. It’s really difficult to put into words how much this experience meant to me and how life changing it has been in many ways.  The film crew was exceptional, was always respectful of the animals, and was a lot of fun to be around.  Each day was a new and interesting challenge trying to figure out the best way to tell the animal’s stories while making time to film real life events and emergencies as they happened.  At first, the process felt a little awkward having strangers around when it would normally be just a few of us taking care of the animals.  Eventually though, being followed around by the crew and cameras felt so natural that I started to forget how life was without them.  Every intimate moment, whether sad, happy, or scary, became a moment I wanted to share and felt privileged to be able to do so.  We welcomed the film crew as members of the KSTR family, and I truly felt invested in the final product of the show.  I always felt like this was a project we were creating together and that it was a fabulous way to let the world know what we are doing here in our corner of the rainforest in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.

There is no “average day” at KSTR and taking care of rescued wildlife, especially orphans, is a 24 hour commitment.   My life revolves around what the animals need and most days are filled with feeding and exercising babies, gathering wild foods, observations, medical exams, instructing volunteers and of course rescues and releases. The opportunity to share my passion with the world is rare and precious, and having the chance to invite a diverse audience to ride the same emotional roller coaster that I live on a daily basis is something I will always cherish.  I just hope that this series provides the audience with a new perspective on wildlife rescue.  It is my goal that we portray these animals not just as cute and cuddly creatures that exist solely for us to have and to hold, but instead that they are amazing creatures with wonderful stories of their own and that they all deserve another chance to be wild.

Newbie, a 3 toed sloth was at KSTR's rescue center during filming

 

Check out a video of a Baby Anteater learning to climb a branch!
Here’s one of Al the anteater feasting on some ants, go Al!

Read about Kids Saving the Rainforest’s other projects here.

KSTR featured on BBC One! Nature’s Miracle Orphans Costa Rica

Ellie Harrison and Max Hug Williams to present Nature’s Miracle Orphans for BBC One

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Presenters Ellie Harrison and Max Hug Williams follow the early lives of orphaned baby animals as they make their brave journeys back in to the wild, in a 2 x 60 minute series from the BBC’s award-winning Natural History Unit.

Filmed in Costa Rica and Australia, the series follows the teams and individuals who devote their lives to caring for young orphaned wildlife, teaching them the basic survival skills they need before they can be released back into the wild.

Wildlife cameraman Max Hug Williams visits Kids Saving the Rainforest in Costa Rica to meet the carers of a three-toed sloth named Newbie, who is battling a life-threatening illness. Max is also introduced to two-toed, two-day-old sloth Tiny, who is in need of constant care and attention, and anteater Al, who must learn to tackle aggressive biting ants if he is going to survive in the wild.

At Cape Otway Conservation Centre in Australia Ellie meets a tiny koala called Danny, who was found abandoned at the roadside after his mother was killed and ran up the leg of the motorist who stopped to rescue him. She’ll also visit Wildhaven Wildlife Shelter on the outskirts of Melbourne, where she’ll meet baby wallaby Neil and the carers working around the clock to teach the skills he’ll need for a life in the wild.

Max says: “Through the dedication of the amazing carers I met in Costa Rica, the animals that have had the hardest start in life are given the second chance they deserve. These incredible people have given up everything to nurture and care for these orphans 24/7 and having seen what they go through, I have to say, it must be one of the toughest jobs in the world.”

Ellie says: “Few jobs require as much personal sacrifice for no pay as rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife. The carers I have spent time with in Australia are woken through the night, convert their homes to rescue centres and have their personal schedule determined by the needs of the animals. But the reward is clear: a second chance for the orphans who would never have otherwise survived and the return of the animals they have nurtured back to the wild.”

Executive Producer Lucinda Axelsson says: “All the animals featured in the series are handpicked for their plucky personalities and their will to survive. It’s almost impossible not have your heart melted when you see Danny the baby koala being weighed in a little glass jug, or little Neil the orphaned wallaby trying hard to find a friend to cuddle up with. These babies are trying to survive against formidable odds and every survival truly feels like a miracle.”

Nature’s Miracle Orphans was commissioned for the BBC by Tom McDonald, Acting Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History. The Executive Producer is Lucinda Axelsson and the series producer is Kate Broome, both for the BBC’s Natural History Unit.

 

Our Adoption Program has changed to a SPONSORSHIP PROGRAM!!

All funds received through our site go to Kids Saving the Rainforest, a 501(c) 3 US non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the endangered mono titi monkey and Costa Rica’s Rainforest.

 

Sponsorship levels describe what your dollars will accomplish for funding each critical project or rescue and release or sanctuary care for that type of animal.  These funds are used immediately for our ongoing programs and for helping the animals in our care. New short term projects  are supported through specific project fundraisers which are listed at the bottom of our Razoo DONATE page.  This includes options for you to create your own campaign for your group through Razoo. To Learn More about each program and project please go here:

http://kidssavingtherainforest.org/sponsorship-levels/

Save the Sloths with Kids Saving the Rainforest!

kermie ellen pelota

Named Pelota, Ellen and Kermie, these delightful close-knit threesome two-toed will hopefully become the first ever once orphaned baby sloths of their kind to be released in Costa Rica and the first in the world to be released with GPS collars. Two toed sloths typically spend up to two years with their mothers learning how to be wild. Three- toed sloths spend between 6 months and 1 year with their mothers learning to be wild. This time allows for the young to gain weight to stay warm, to learn how to find good shelter, what to eat, how to climb and to learn about predator avoidance. Vital to this process is the pre-release of the threesome into a 50 by 40 M “boot camp” facility with large trees and ample climbing opportunities which is being built by a group of volunteers on KSTR property this June. This will allow the three as well as the other up and coming youngsters to move into a protected environment that provides a needed learning environment before their release.

KSTR is raising funds to help facilitate this important project to outfit the sloths with tracking collars to ensure their safety and to study their behavior upon release. Kids Saving the Rainforest encourages you to get on board to maintain and preserve the magnificence of the rainforest and wildlife that is a vital part of Costa Rica.

For more info visit kidssavingtherainforest.org or view relevant updates on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Kids-Saving-the-Rainforest/146280833519 or our blog athttps://kstr.wordpress.com/ You can also email jennifer@kidssavingtherainforest.org or call 011-506-2-777-2592 in Costa Rica.

Our Gerente Pia Martin 2nd visit of the month

 

 

ImageTwice a month our Gerente (Sanctuary and Rescue Center Manager) Pia Martin visits the animals , here’s an insight on her visit.

JUNE 15, 2013 REPORT – KSTR RESCUE CENTER

New animals
• 2013-06-037. BABY TITI CHARLOTTE- Thin and sick. She has a Gastrointestinal infection both bacterial and fungi in origin. Is still feisty. She is receiving treatment and her appetite has improved. In clinic, away from the other baby titis meanwhile.
• 2013-06-038. ADULT WHITE FACE- brought in severely traumatized, fractured femur, lost a lot of blood. Taken for an amputation to Desiree. Died after surgery.
• 2013-06-39. BABY VIREO FLAVORENSIS. Insectivore chick. Died the next day.
• 2013-06-040. JUVENILE KINKAJOU. Confiscated from a home in Damas. Health wise ok. Under behavioral observation to see if it can be released.
• 2013-06-041. ORANGE CHINNED PARAKEET. Confiscated from same house. Adult. In good condition. Taken with the rest to Quarantine 1.
• 2013-06-042. ADULT PORCUPINE. Extremely thin, sick and with two major injuries with maggots on body. Did surgery, cleaned and debrided the wounds. One was left open with a sugar bandage, the other was closed and a drain was placed. Should continue in critical condition with plenty of fluids, food, and medications in the clinic.
• 2013-06-043. ADULT HOWLER. Electrocuted lactating female. She has first, second, and third degree burns on legs, thorax and arms. Has fever, infection, and poor appetite. Does not use her hands. Had to do surgery and amputate 2 fingers. In critical condition in the clinic.
• 2013-06-044 – 047. FOUR 3 WEEK OLD BABY RACCOONS. Are in good health but still very small: ears closed/no teeth. Feedings every 4 hours. Deworming protocol.

Updates:
• The animals neutered 2 weeks ago (ALVARITO and LITTLE JR.) recovered fine and fast. They went in the enclosures with their families after recovery without any problems.
• PELOTA (10 month old two toed sloth)- found in perfect health too. She is growing fast and steadily. She is very curious (explorer), strong, agile, and has an incredible appetite. She has been staying by herself the whole day at enclosure R2 for the last 2 weeks. Doing great. Eating by herself! And eating a lot of new things: loving red lettuce. Has also been spending time with Kermit and they have bonded. New objectives: start learning to drink suero from a bowl, milk every other day, spend more time at R2 at until 10pm by herself. Get Kermit with her during the day for a couple of hours.
• KERMIT (2 month old two toed sloth)- growing and gaining weight. Starting to eat carrots and other veggies. Spending time with Pelota. Stronger than before. Starting to go outside on trees. Cover R3 floor with palm leafs (in case he falls) and put him in the hammock with Pelota during the day.
• PESTO (Wolly opossum). Raised here. Ready to be released on Monday. Enclosure R1 should be left open with food on the inside available. He may come back at dawn. Close the door again. Open at dusk. Continue feedings at dusk so he knows he can come back. He will leave and not come back when he finds shelter and another source of food.
• Clyde- male titi monkey. Healthy, growing fast and steadily. (from to 220grs to 240grs in 15 days.)
• Bonnie- female titi monkey. Healthy, growing and gaining weight ( from 225grs to 245grs in 15 days).
• Harley- male titi monkey. Also healthy, gaining weight (260grs). They are all learning to eat by themselves at night if hungry.
• Starting to have interest in fruits, veggies and eggs. Been introduced to Peeta and Nibbles and there has not been any aggression.
• Al- the anteater. He is ready to be released. He is healthy, big, strong, knows how to forage for ants and termites. Knows how to climb and dig. He is ready. We are waiting for the gps collar. We need $3000 more to reach the goal. The idea is to soft release him and have volunteers be tracking him to monitor the release.
• Tolomuco- huge, fast, agile, can climb, jump and run, can find food that is hidden and can hunt-kill and eat live prey. He is going to be released in primary rainforest in the middle of nowhere about 40mins from Quepos in a place called Santa Juana. Hopefully this week.
• ARMADILLO- passed away after several days after surgery and trying to recover.
• OWL- still alive and recovering from surgery at Simon Bolivar Zoo.
• FARFEL AND ROMEOS BABIES- and all other marmosets are doing ok. Normal.
• SANDY was moved to Yang and Ninjas cage. They accepted her right away. No sign of aggression at any moment. She has bonded with one of the males. The other one is still included, no aggression there either, but he is a bit a far. No mating witnessed.
KENNELS. All Kennels are full (good and bad ones), do not even have a shift kennel. This means that kennels still need to be fixed: they don’t have doors, the doors don’t work, they have holes, or are broken; or in NEED of new ones. Also that we cant take in anymore animals until we release or someone dies. The 4 raccoons took the last kennel (a broken one, good thing they are still very small). Next fundraiser? Each kennel is about $100 in Costa Rica.
TRAILS.
The trail to the Rehab area is finished and beautiful.
The trail to the Quarantine area is in progress.
The stairs from the Clinic to the Bodega are done.
The trail from the bodega to the bridge is done.

MULTISPECIES CAGE. The huge structure is ready! It has 2 doors to enter the place, a ranch with 4 wooden boxes for the animals to shelter at night, day and rain. Some things are still missing: a shift cage, cement under the doors, other details. Then enrichment and planting more trees and or bushes. Then the titi monkeys will be transferred.

WASHER/DRYER- very much needed, they are now new and ready to use. For the rescue center and sanctuary animals.

As you can see there’s been a lot going on here and we will give you updates so you can see how you’re helping and how you can help us continue to save the animals!

The adopted animals of KSTR

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Kermit the sloth

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Al the Anteater

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Buster Posey the Goat

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Bonnie and Clyde the titi monkeys

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Rosie aka Pelota the Sloth

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Squawker the red lored parrot

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Fredericka the porcupine

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Harley the titi monkey

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Fly Girl aka Charlotte

 

Unfortunately we get animals all of the time that need rehabilitation before they can be released back into the wild.

Please go to: http://kidssavingtherainforest.org/donationsadoptions/ and find out how you can help too by adopting.