Tales from the Jungle: April 2021

A Month of Highs and Lows

I need to start by sharing with you some sad news. If you follow our updates then you might remember a sloth called Cacao – he was one of the new additions to our Urban Sloth Project in January and, as his name suggests, he loved to feast on cacao pods in a local garden in the South Caribbean.

Sadly, just three months after we fitted him with a Sloth BackpackCacao was attacked by a dog and didn’t survive. 

This was not only heartbreaking for our research team here in Costa Rica, but it also suggests that the mortality rate of sloths in urban areas might be much higher than we ever anticipated. We have known for a long time that sloth populations in human-inhabited areas are declining quickly, but we didn’t expect to lose our study sloths so quickly.

Events like this serve to remind us why our work is so important. It is one of the main reasons why we launched the Urban Sloth Project, and it is why we have decided to triple our efforts this year to reduce the number of dog attacks on wildlife.

Thankfully, we also have some positive news to share with you this month! Check out our April highlights below:

Have you heard about the maned sloths?

They have the size, strength, and ferocity of a two-fingered sloth, but the physical appearance of a three-fingered sloth.
It is a species that no one really knows anything about, and they are the most endangered species among the continental sloths.

While our SloCo headquarters are based in Costa Rica, we are committed to conserving all 6 extant species of sloth that are found throughout South and Central America. Last month we were delighted to launch an exciting new project in Brazil to carry out important research into maned sloth ecology.  Click here to learn more about the maned sloths and see what happened when Team Sloth traveled to Brazil! 

maned sloth
Professor Gastón Giné prior to release the sloth after being tagged.

Arthur joins the Urban Sloth Project!

This handsome male is the latest sloth to be equipped with a Sloth Backpack as a part of our Urban Sloth Project! He lives in the beautiful gardens of a local property which we think will be a great model for how humans and wildlife can coexist peacefully!




Pawsome Pals:

1 month after running our first free dog training course in the local community, we went to visit the 40 dogs and their owners who participated to see how they were progressing. We were delighted to see significant improvements in the dogs’ behaviors, and some owners had even made their homes sloth friendly by installing wildlife bridges!



Celebrating Earth Day 2021!

This month we joined forces with other local organizations in the South Caribbean to clean up the beaches and restore coastal sloth habitats by planting trees! This area has now been awarded Blue Flag Accreditation by the Costarican Institute of tourism which recognizes sustainable development and community engagement in conservation!

Giant sloths with armored skins?

If you thought that sloths couldn’t get any weirder – you were wrong! Argentinian scientists used X-rays on a 13,000-year-old ‘mummified’ sloth skin and discovered thousands of tiny bones on the inside. It is thought that these bones worked as a kind of armor that would still enable movement. Check out our blog post to learn more!



What Went Wrong

We also like to confess our ultimate #fails of the month…. because we believe that success stories are not the only kind that needs to be shared!

Ouch! My Dog!

Tamara (our dog training manager) got bitten by one of the dogs on the course this month! Luckily the bite was superficial and she handled it very well. This dog has a sad history of being abused which means he requires a lot of love and training. Despise this little setback, he is still improving his social skills through our program!



Itching and Burning!

While tracking one of our collared sloths through the jungle this month, Amelia (Team Sloth’s Ecology coordinator) accidentally fell into the middle of a giant Ortiga bush. This plant is a type of aggressive jungle nettle and touching the leaves causes red blisters and severe itching for days afterwards!


Sloth Selfie Fail

Whenever we install a Sloth Crossing, we also install camera traps so that we can see any animals using the bridge. When checking the footage this month we were delighted to see a sloth using one of our bridges… but unfortunately, the camera was placed incorrectly and all we got was a close-up of this sloth’s backside!



I hope you have enjoyed our tales from the jungle this month and I look forward to sharing more with you soon. Although this month was difficult with the loss of Cacao, we are more determined than ever to make his life matter.

We will continue our fight to ensure that sloths are able to safely navigate the places we share with them, and hopefully, we can prevent this from happening again in the future.

All the best from the jungles of Costa Rica,


Dr. Rebecca Cliffe
Founder and Executive Director

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