Nathan would be jealous

by Luke, in Costa Rica
5th January, 2010

Great day! Kids Saving the Rainforest was a charity founded in 1999 by two girls who developed a passion for the rainforest and conserving the wildlife – within it at only eleven years of age. The project took off and has grown into a big non-profit organization that is multi faceted in its goals and aims. The approach is a holistic one, focused on overall sustainability and ecological diversity of the rainforest and all the fauna and flora within it. Jennifer and Chip (Jennifer is the Mother of one of the girls) are the custodians of the project and are overseeing its development and exponential growth. They employ a vet called Pia who heads up the animal side of things and oversees the rescue and rehabilitation of the wildlife, returning about 50 animals a year back into the rainforest. Jennifer and Chip exude a tireless energy in managing both their hotel business and the charity – which is clearly a complete passion for both of them.


Incredibly welcoming, my day was spent working with Pia to do some health checks on animals about to be released, learn about the animals at the centre and generally get an appreciation for the challenges they face. It was great fun and I don’t want to spoil exactly what we got up to as it will be a good part of the programme but Nathan would have been raw with envy as we got to grips with baby sloths – his favourite creatures – and they are completely adorable. Interesting facts are that the three toed sloths are endangered (two toed aren’t), they depend utterly on the sustainability of the rainforest for their survival, they live in the trees and only come down to the ground once a week to defaecate and urinate – around the base of the tree in which they live (the idea being they fertilise it). They even give birth up in the tree – hanging from the branches. The baby will cling to the Mother for about 4 months before being weaned and their hair grows away from the extremities rather than towards it (as in all other mammals) because they spend so much time hanging upside down it helps the water drain away when it rains! They can also delay implantation which means the gestation of a sloth can vary depending on availability for food 6-9 months being the average.

All sloths have three toes on their hind feet but two toed have only two toes on their front feet – three toed have three. Algae grown in their hair which helps camoflague them and they metabolise things at a very slow rate giving them their reputation for slothness. A bit undeserved as they seemed to be pretty active to me and the fact they don’t move fast and stay up in the tress is really a mechanism to avoid predation and allow them to blend in with the surrounding forest (jaguars, harpy eagles and man being the main predators).

Whilst we are on interesting facts – if you ever need to anaesthetize a raccoon – 12mg/kg Ketamine and 2mg/kg xylazine IM is a good dose rate.

Smooth drive down to our next destination and everyone is on a high after a great day and working with some really good people.

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