The Urban Sloth Project: Meet BAGUETTE—the master of camouflage!

The Urban Sloth Project: Meet BAGUETTE—the master of camouflage!

Baguette was the third three-fingered sloth collared for the Urban Sloth Project and was a rather spontaneous addition to the project. She was found while Suzi Eszterhas (World-renowned photographer and SloCo trustee) was visiting Puerto Viejo to document the plight of urban sloths.



Baguette was in a bad spot: atop a fence, desperately trying to reach the lowest nearby tree branch, while below her were two aggressive dogs barking.



Unfortunately, the branch Baguette was reaching for was little more than a twig, which would certainly not support her 5 kg (11 lbs) weight, and would have broken and dropped her right into the barking dogs. Dr. Cliffe and Suzi judged that the risk of mortality was very high for Baguette.

 Taking action

So Dr. Cliffe climbed on Cecilia’s (our Director of Development, also present) shoulders to reach Baguette, who was less than grateful for the intervention. In fact, Dr. Cliffe said that Baguette was one of the angriest three-fingered sloths she has ever had to handle, and she knows what she is talking about!



We have some of the adventure captured in pictures by Suzi, but what this one doesn’t show is how high the fence was! At about 2 meters (6 feet), the team would usually have gone back for a ladder in order to more safely handle a wild sloth, but there was no time.

(Instead, we have helpfully illustrated the situation in this fabulously rendered, hand-drawn, one-of-a-kind piece of art! Really, it makes you feel like you were there.)

Luckily for everyone concerned, Cecilia keeps herself in shape swimming, and her shoulders are quite strong!


Once Baguette was rescued, measured, health checked, and fitted with a backpack she was released into the area she was trying to reach. Since she was found on the same road as Croissant (known locally as “The Bakery Road”), Team Sloth kept with the naming convention and dubbed her Baguette.



And there began the journey of one of the most difficult sloths we have tracked to date.

The Heck Swamp

Baguette proceeded to move into an area of forest the Tracking Team promptly dubbed Heck Swamp (yes, that’s a euphemism). It was easy to understand why no one had decided to build on this land –it’s a swamp, and due to the deforestation around it, the frequency of major flooding is quite high.



While this was a mostly unpleasant area for our Tracking Team, it was a near perfect area for any sloth. The tall Sangrillo trees made for an excellent interconnected canopy, and the lot did not border any major roads, which is good news for animals that don’t want to confront traffic. However, it meant that Baguette was invisible the vast majority of the time, and has an overall visibility rate of only 26%.

A sloth hard to see…

The Tracking Team knew the chance of finding her was quite small on any given day, and the chance of her then being in a catchable spot was even smaller, so SloCo pulled out all the stops and poured resources into finding her.

The better part of April was spent with Amelia, the most experienced tracker (except of course for Dr. Cliffe), the rest of the Tracking Team, and the Connected Gardens Team knee-deep in the swamp, staring up at the trees for hours at a time.


Laying on the ground for hours, watching the canopy, does look like idleness, but it’s actually a good way to spot sloths without hurting your neck.


Our best chance of finding Baguette was to get as many eyes on the trees as possible.

(And boy did the tracking team feel vindicated when our best sloth spotters—Francisco, Deyber, and Ames—also could not spot her! Ha! If they can’t do it, no one can.)

…and catch

Days passed with no sign of Baguette, other than the incessant beeping of the receiver telling us she was right above our heads.  However, the New Expanded Tracking Team did spot many other creatures; there is such an abundance of life living in this lot surrounded by homes, Airbnbs, and hotels.

Birds, butterflies, squirrels, insects, lizards, and even a Tyra call Heck Swamp home! Team Sloth was so impressed by this diversity of wildlife that we looked into getting Heck Swamp officially protected, and to our delight found that it is already listed as a protected wetland!


Amelia and Dayber at Heck Swamp


And so Team Sloth spent days and days in 50 cm (20 inches)—sometimes… depending on where you stood it could be ankle-deep one step and knee-deep the next—of swampy water, staring up into the canopy, desperately trying to spot a backpack on the back of one of the dozen sloths occupying this small plot of beautiful rainforest.

And then, finally, it happened

Team Sloth found Baguette, and for an absolute wonder, she was low down and catchable! Not only that, but while we had been desperately looking for her for all these months, she found herself a mate, got pregnant, and gave birth to an adorable little baby!



We didn’t name the baby, as Baguette was no longer part of the Urban Sloth Project, but we were so happy to see her thriving in her verdant and protected territory. Baguette didn’t even have to come down out of her tree for the de-backpacking, Deyber was able to quickly climb up and remove the backpack with no added stress for her or for Baguette Jr. (Ok, maybe we did name the baby. We couldn’t help it!)


The backpack then and now


Another surprise for us during Operation Guerrilla Baguette was finding a tayra sleeping away in a hollow in one of Baguette’s trees… in a stolen sarong! We caught a glimpse of the tayra up in the tree, and surmised that the sarong came from the laundry of the hotel directly behind the tree.


A Tayra with a blanket


Tales from the Jungle: February, Sloth Love Month

Tales from the Jungle: February, Sloth Love Month

February is the month for love. And here at SloCo, we have so many things that we love (besides sloths), including, but not limited to:

Our friends and family of course!

Every day. All of them. Even Cousin Jerry, who does that weird thing with the tuna cans on the front porch.

We love our pets too! Really, we just love all animals.

February 26th is Love Your Pet Day, and February 27th is World Spay and Neuter Day! Help make sure every puppy has a loving home by keeping pet populations manageable.

Caring for our dogs also helps sloths and wildlife. We received a report this month from our friends at Colina Secreta Glamping, members of the Sloth Friendly Network, showing us their dog (a beautiful boxer called Sakura) keeping a safe distance from a sloth that was crawling over a road. Sakura was part of our Dog Academy, proving that education really does work for everybody!

Just like every month since 2019, we are committed to spaying and neutering 10 rescued dogs in our community, free of charge. By humanely controlling the dog population, we can reduce dog attacks on sloths and other wildlife, reduce the number of dogs in the street (and exposed to hazardous traffic), and keep down zoonotic diseases.

Last year we also organized three major castration clinics, and this year we’re aiming to have our first one ready to go by April. If you love dogs and sloths, please consider supporting our Oh My Dog project!

We love Pangolins and how weird they are, just like our beloved sloths!

You can learn more about this in our “Sloth vs Pangolin” blog entry, published on February 19th for World Pangolin Day. (We love that pangolins have their own holiday! How awesome is that?)

We love promoting girls and women in science!

Women are still not fully represented in STEM fields, and here at SloCo we like to lead by example and show girls that they can both study and lead in scientific careers.

February 11th was Girls and Women in Science Day, created to celebrate the importance of making the fields of science and conservation approachable to young girls. Check out these photos of young Becky Cliffe (now Dr. Rebecca Cliffe), as she goes from pointing out frogs on a puddle as a child, to pointing out sloths on the canopy!

Perhaps most of all, we really love finding hope in unexpected places.

This month, after the dust settled on some illegal logging and bulldozers that destroyed a portion of Luna’s territory, we discovered that she has survived the transgression and is thriving.

Not only did our dear Luna survive, but she also gave birth to a new baby! We named her baby “Celeste”.

This has been an important lesson to us humans about the power of resilience. We have been monitoring Luna for almost a year, and she has shown us so much about the power of nature to persevere and regenerate.

Do you know what we love more than installing wildlife bridges?

Seeing sloths use them to cross safely! This month we received several reports of our bridges being utilized by sloths and monkeys, and we couldn’t be happier!


So far we’ve installed almost 140 sloth crossing in the South Caribbean of Costa Rica, creating a true grid of connected habitats!

We love Luiza, our newest sloth for the Urban Sloth Project

On February 16th we found a lovely three-fingered sloth on the ground near Luna’s home territory. We took our chances and quickly fitted her with a collar and backpack. If you would like to have updates on Luiza, Luna, and the other eight sloths we are currently monitoring, subscribe to our VIP program!

We hope you enjoyed your Sloth Love Month

And took some time to recharge and spread the love for the rest of the year! Stay tuned for the upcoming emails with more facts, blogs, news, fails, and of course, a lot of sloths!

As always, we want to thank you for your support and tell you how much we love having you. 

And as for me, Kokomo, this is my farewell until the next Sloth Love Month, but always remember to proudly carry the flag of Peace and Love every day of your life.

With sincere sloth love,

Sloth Love Advisor

A Little Taste of Heaven: Tracking Diaries #8

A Little Taste of Heaven: Tracking Diaries #8

I’m standing amongst the wreckage of felled trees and bulldozed undergrowth, my boots crunching on dead vegetation, but I’m not looking down.

I’m looking up. I’ve heard from Sarah that Luna has a new baby, just days old, and I haven’t seen her yet.

I haven’t seen much of sloths lately, it feels like. Between my other duties over the holidays and a couple of Covid scares I’ve become a little too intimately familiar with the view from my desk, the exact number of dead pixels on my computer screen, and the utter indolence of my cats, who literally do nothing other than sleep and demand food.

It feels a bit disorienting to be out in the field again. The last time I was this deep in Luna’s territory, it had more trees and less gravel, before some jerk came and tried to pave the place over. I watched from the other side of my phone screen as SloCo came to the rescue and notified the appropriate authorities of that transgression, and cheered through my coughing fits as my the community saved the remaining trees from the heavy equipment and sweated through a blistering hot day to put up fence posts to keep the tourists’ cars from finishing what the bulldozers had started.



It was in the dead branches of some of her former trees that Sarah found Luna and her new baby, trying to crawl to a safe haven through the twisted roots and twigs and spiders. Sarah reported that Luna arrived in her new tree safely, and it is now my job to figure out what the heck tree that actually was.



Our tracking equipment is being even weirder than usual. According to our radio receiver, Luna has in fact boarded a raft and is bound for—a quick check of Google maps—Aruba. It’s possible that the jungle has rusted some secret but essential piece of electronics deep inside the receiver, or that I’ve forgotten how to track sloths, or maybe that the antenna is possessed by demons.

(Note so self, Google “how to do an exorcism” when I get home. Don’t tell my boss.)

I’m still fiddling with the equipment when I have one of those perfect sloth tracking moments: I just happen to look up at a movement out of the corner of my eye and catch a slow-moving silhouette on the side of the guarumo tree. Quick as a cat, I whip out my binoculars, and then fist punches the air as I spot a three-fingered female with an itty bitty little replica of herself clinging to her fur. Another minute confirms the radio collar on her neck—this is definitely Luna!



The receiver is still insisting that Luna is somewhere out on the Caribbean waves, so I turn it off and instead pull out my phone, snap a few pictures, and then settle in for a good look at her.

Baby sloths are cute on a level that maybe ought not to be legal. They almost don’t look real; they’re just arms and eyes and fuzzy cuddles incarnate, like the living manifestation of a hug.

By now a crowd has gathered around me to marvel at the sloths. Luna has settled onto the branch she was after and gone to sleep. Watching them, I have to smile. Luna’s territory will take a long time to regrow, but here in front of me is proof that new life, and new growth, is always possible. We have named the baby Celeste, which means “heavenly”. It is also the Spanish word for the color of a clear sky in the daytime.

If you want a little taste of heaven, sometimes all you have to do is look up.

-Ames Reeder

Confessions: Tracking Diaries #7

Confessions: Tracking Diaries #7

I stare at the low chair in my living room, which I would swear on anything you like contained an orange backpack full of specialized sloth tracking equipment the last time I saw it. It is now empty.

I’m dead. I think. Or fired, or going crazy. I’ve only just transitioned out of volunteer status with SloCo into a full-time team member, and now that I’ve lost the tracking equipment I’m likely going to be demoted so fast I’ll probably have to give back all of my t-shirts with the nice logo on them.

It might just be easier to fall on my sword, only I don’t have a sword, so I sit down in the other chair instead. Okay, let’s think about this.

If a thief had broken into my house and stolen the backpack, it seems pretty unlikely that they left my laptop alone and nicely locked the door again after they left, so perhaps the equipment isn’t stolen. This is good for my sense of security, but unfortunately, it leaves me with only one other conclusion, which is that I did something with the equipment, and I have no idea what that might have been. Also, it’s getting late and I REALLY have to track some sloths today.

Part of the problem is that I have a confession to make: I have done almost no actual sloth tracking this month. I’ve been editing and proofreading and writing instead. How that happened went something like this:

Ceci: “We have a ton of mailings and content going out this month, and I need some help cleaning them up for an English-speaking audience.”

Dr. Becky: “Have Ames do it.
Doesn’t he have a degree in writing or something?”
*Distant maniacal laughter from my high school English teacher*

Me: “Actually I never went to—”

Ceci: “Great! Hey Amelia, can I borrow Ames this month?”

Amelia: “Sure, just give him back in January. Our other tracker is leaving to go be a skydiving instructor in Norway or some such.”

Dr. Becky: “Done.”

Ceci: “Thanks.”

Me: “Do I get a say—”
Ceci, Dr. Becky, and Amelia: “Nope. To the computer with you!”

Distant high school English teacher: “Oh, this is rich. Do you want to know what grades he got in school?”

Me: “Shut up, you.”

And so I spent most of December parked in front of a screen. I also taught myself how to make a latte and chased off vacationing trucks who kept wanting to turn the little jungle restoration area in front of my house into a parking lot, but I saw very few sloths.

I did escape my house long enough to make an excursion to the US embassy to renew my passport, during which time I only got lost in San Jose twice, missed my appointment once, and narrowly avoided sleeping on the streets of the port city of Limon on my way back home.

Instead, I shared an overcrowded taxi with five other guys (and sat on the laps of three of them: don’t ask) while we all ducked our heads and hid every time we passed a police checkpoint.

I was at the post office arranging the delivery of my hard-earned passport when the orange backpack went missing from my house. Think think think. After a bit, I start knocking on my neighbor’s doors and asking if they’ve seen anyone come or go from the property.

Me: “Buenas Linda! Has visto a alguien entrar en mi casa?”

Linda: “Ahh, no. ¿Quieres ravioles?”

Me: “Hey Dave, has anyone been by the house today?”

Dave: “Not that I’ve seen. Is something missing? Maybe we should look for clues!”

Me: “I think the jungle ate the clues. Oh, and by the way, Linda is making ravioli…”

Me: “Hey Kev,” I ask my ex (who is also my neighbor. Really don’t ask. It’s a small town.) “You haven’t seen an invisible thief run off with an orange backpack, have you?”

Kevin: “No, but Amanda came by and said she would track sloths today for you. I still have your spare key so I let her in.”

Me: “Oh thank God!”
Kevin: “Is that a problem?”

Me: “Nope, not at all. Don’t mind me while I just sag down here and lay on the floor.”

Kevin: “You look a little pale. Have you tried these ravioli? They’re really good.”

It turns out I did not need to doubt my sanity after all. I just had to open up and talk to people, because most of them mean you well.

They guard your spare keys, they track sloths for you, they make you food. Sometimes, all you need to do is ask.

-Ames Reeder