March 2023 | Tales From The Jungle
This month’s newsletter begins with a heartbreaking story of one of our beloved Urban Sloths, but no matter how bad things get, there’s always something that restores your faith in this world. Ours comes from YOU, our sloth supporters, and no amount of gratitude expresses what our community gives back to us in times of need.
A heartbreaking story with a hopeful ending
Luna has been with the Urban Sloth Project from nearly the beginning: she is one of our favorite sloths to track, gives us invaluable data for the USP, and is such a stellar mom that we want every day to be Mother’s Day. It has been our most cherished privilege to watch her raise Sol, Celeste, and most recently a baby we named ‘Eclipse’.
We don’t know how it happened, but when we saw Luna struggling her way up a tree with her arm hanging limply by her side, we knew something was wrong. We suspect that she fell from one of the trees on the edge of her territory and landed on the jagged coral where the waves break, although with the amount of disturbance that her territory has suffered, it could have been any number of things.
The heartbreaking news is that her baby was not with her. We don’t know if whatever original accident got Luna’s arm also got her baby, or if Luna was forced to abandon him because of her injury, but it seems Eclipse was rather too aptly named, and his time in the sky was too brief. Rest in peace, little Eclipse, we won’t forget you.
The good news is that we were able to rescue Luna and get her to a specialized orthopedic surgeon from San José, who was able to mend her arm with a titanium plate.
Luna now faces a long recovery. Her healing process will take several months, followed by a second surgery to remove the titanium plate before she is eligible for rehabilitation and release. Sloths are truly amazing animals, and their ability to survive and overcome injuries is as impressive as everything else they do so well: we have high hopes for Luna to make a complete recovery and fully integrate back into her wild lifestyle at the end of it.
Thanks to you, Luna’s journey to recovery is not one she faces alone! Though sloths are solitary animals, with the support of our sloth community behind her, we will make sure that the difficulties she encounters from human urbanization are matched by the resources she needs to overcome them.
We organized a successful fundraiser for Luna’s surgery, and we want to give a huge thanks to everybody who collaborated. On behalf of the sloths who cannot speak for themselves: thank you. Thank you for the donations, for sharing our posts on social media, and for your messages of hope and support.
Finally, once Luna is completely healed and ready to get back to the trees, we will be releasing her from the Urban Sloth Project. She has served her species and the USP very well, and the huge amount of data, information, and knowledge that she has contributed to the project will be crucial in protecting sloths in years to come.
Dogs on the ground and Drones in the sky
In case you’ve (somehow) missed hearing about it, we’re still training our sloth dog Keysha to start the first sloth population census! We’ve got Keysha on the ground, and to support his project from the air, we’ll also be using drones with thermal cameras. Because the future is here, and it’s full of nerdy sloth-tracking tech!
We have wanted to do this for so long, but it wasn’t until recently that technology finally caught up with our sci-fi fueled vision of how awesome wildlife monitoring could be. In this blog, we talk about the first experience using this technology by our colleagues in Brazil.
106 years old and increasingly tolerant of dogs…
The first such dog to have gained its sloth scat detection certificate is Keysha and she has already sniffed out dozens of piles of sloth poo. I made a call to Keysha to congratulate her but was surprised to find her less than happy.
“I always wanted to be a sniffer dog,” she explained, “but I was hoping to sniff out terrorists or drug dealers, not sloth poo.”
We hope you have a great upcoming April! We’ll be spending the month checking on Luna, continuing to develop our projects, preparing for Earth Day, and of course keeping you updated on the never dull adventures of the rainforest. See you in the next Tales from the Jungle!
Dr. Rebecca Cliffe
Founder and Executive Director