“Best and worst of times”…Lessons learned from sloth deaths
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Sloth beginnings and endings”.
Sometimes I wonder if truly great things can only be born out of tragedy. Is pure excitement always coupled with fear? For me, 2014 was a combination of huge personal losses and experiences that resulted in substantial personal growth. As I sit here and type this message, I am waiting for goat milk to warm so I can feed one of the most inspiring animals I have had the pleasure to care for. “Locket” a 5 week old three fingered sloth, literally arrived at the KSTR wildlife clinic the day he was born. His face covered in amniotic sac and his umbilical cord freshly attached to the placenta…there was no doubt that his first moments in life were spent face down on a forest floor…covered in dirt and without his mother to clean him or feed him. We have no idea why he fell from the trees or why his mother did not retrieve him…but he is alive today. Already in his short life he survived a fall from the top of the forest canopy, three weeks of bacterial diarrhea, lack of immunity received from his real mom and just the general inadequateness of having me – a human – for a surrogate mother. Some would say “Locket” is a miracle…but really his success so far is attributed to the hard work from an amazing team of people at KSTR and TSI.
While simultaneously feeling joyous about Locket’s tiny little life, my mind and heart are heavyover the sloth s we’ve lost in 2014. Most recently, at 2.5 years old…Pelota passed away on December 4th. Ironically, I had just presented about Sloth Rehabilitation at the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) in Cincinnati, Ohio when I received the call that something tragic had happened to Pelota in my absence. While minding her own business in Bootcamp; Pelota was attacked and killed by a Terciopelo…a very poisonous and some consider the most dangerous snake in Costa Rica. I have only barely begun to process this huge loss but one thing I am certain about is that I miss her. Every…day…I miss her. Pelota was the first sloth I ever met. The first sloth I ever held. The first sloth I ever fed. The first sloth that I lost sleep for. The first sloth that made me proud. And probably, most devastatingly…she was the first sloth I ever loved. She started everything. For me, she was the beginning of a new life…a passion…an irresistible desire to constantly strive for the very best these sloths deserve. Learning about how to take care of her and wanting the best for her was what lit a fire inside of me two years ago to start learning about sloths in general. Pelota started my personal #slothlove…and I can only hope to honor her memory by continuing to help sloths in the future.
Pelota isn’t the only sloth we lost in 2014…and Locket isn’t the only sloth we saved in 2014. But they are both great examples of a year filled with triumphs and tragedies.
They say that at the beginning of a New Year you should make resolutions…resolve to loose weight, learn another language or start those dance lessons you always wanted. My New Year’s Resolution is to NEVER give up trying to save sloths. Sloths are going to die, money is going to get spent, sleep is going to be lost and miscommunications are going to be had. But each tragedy begins to make a little more sense when the lessons learned come together and help save amazing animals like Locket. Locket is alive today because Pelota came before him. Locket is alive today because we performed the first ever sloth c-section and made scientific history. Locket is alive today because Newbie fought against pneumonia for four months. Locket is alive today because Kermie celebrated his first birthday in April.
Locket is alive today.
And that my sloth friends…is something to toast to tonight.
Happy New Year! May 2015 be filled with much #slothlove.