Pregnant sloth rescued after falling from a tree

Vet tech Larissa Calis of the nonprofit Kids Saving the Rainforest in Manuel Antonio, on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast, wrote The Tico Times with a sloth rescue story just in time for International Sloth Day on Oct. 20. Excerpts follow.

Kids Saving the Rainforest has had a very special arrival: a pregnant three-toed sloth!

Some people watched her fall from very high in a tree. She landed and stayed in an abnormal position, seemed to be in pain and also had a bleeding nose. After observing her for some minutes to see if she was going to react, her rescuers decided to take her to the nearby vet in Jacó/Herradura. Dr. Yesenia Alpízar contacted us and decided that it was better for the sloth to come to Kids Saving the Rainforest to have specialized attention.

We did an initial checkup, and the size of her belly made us curious. It was too big, even though she had just pooped and peed a little in the cardboard box she arrived in. It was not a typical “sloth poop belly”… she was very heavy and had colostrum starting to come out of her breasts, so we started to suspect a possible pregnancy. It was confirmed later by a Doppler exam and stethoscope auscultation where we could hear the baby’s heart beating.

It was quite touching, but concerned all of us: could the fall affect the baby?

Upon her arrival, she had her head down and a painful expression, but no broken bones or other injuries beyond a broken claw, as her nose had stopped bleeding. She had already been medicated by the vet in Jacó, so we decided to let her rest and give her peace during 24 hours of observation. Our team spent all night observing without distressing her in a very peaceful environment where she could recover from this stressful situation. We checked her every two hours overnight.

In the morning she was already in a normal posture, able to hold the provided branches, and was much more active. After a quick check on mom’s and baby’s vital signals and taking her measurements, we decided to release her ASAP.

We took her back to the area where she was found, with suitable trees, to give birth to her baby in the wild with no human interference, as it looked like it would happen very soon. The release was successful, and she is safe and doing well!

Thank you to local Herradura resident Kristen Cahill, owner of Caliche’s Wishbone, for finding and bringing this special sloth, and helping her get back to her home in the wild! Kristen is keeping tabs on the sloth and keeping us posted.