BY PENELOPE AYERS, AMATEUR HUNTER RIDER AND PRESIDENT OF THE SLOTH INSTITUTE
The Sloth Institute (TSI)’s mission is to improve and advance the welfare of Sloths through research on their behavioral ecology and habitat needs; as well as how to successfully re-integrate orphaned and injured Sloths back into the wild, while promoting Sloth conservation and education.
It’s hard not to love Sloths and react to their wonderful demeanor and expressions. I fell in love with them several years ago when I saw a Natural Geographic special on wildlife specialists who were raising orphaned animals to return to the wild. One of the caretakers was Sam Trull, the co-founder of The Sloth Institute in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. Now, I have the honor to be the president of TSI and be directly involved in helping these special animals.
While Sloths are not endangered, they face a host of problems from the loss of habitat due to development. Their lives are primarily spent in the trees and they use these as roadways to travel to other areas. As trees disappear they wander onto power lines and face electrocution or try to cross roads where they can be killed by cars or dogs. At TSI, we study their behaviors and rescue, raise and rehabilitate as many Sloths as we can to release back into the wild. We track the Sloths we release to get a picture of how they are managing and faring in the wild.
TSI partners with The Toucan Rescue Ranch in San Jose on a project called Saving Sloths Together. This great project allows us to save more Sloths by utilizing the animal hospital at TRR for severe injuries as well as the rearing of very young animals. We also operate a second release site with TRR to return Sloths to the wild.