Thursday, July 14, 2011

In Loving Memory

A month ago in the nearby town of Santo Domingo a mother sloth wandered into a neighborhood with large trees and realized she was off course. Local children that sunday found the sloth and decided to have some "fun" with her and stoned the mother to death. A man was passing by and saw what the children had done, he saw the mother two toed sloth laying on the ground and on closer inspection found a little tiny baby sloth terrified, clinging to her dead mother.
She also had been hit in the eye, and her head was swollen. He wrapped her up in his shirt and took her home.

That night he tried to comfort her by feeding her some milk...not knowing how difficult baby sloths are to feed he tried his best. Unfortunately she probably swallowed wrong and some of that milk went into her lungs. Monday morning he started to call different zoos and rescue centers and was rejected time after time...he then called the Minaet office of Heredia and told them: "if you don't come pick up this baby I am calling in channel 7" the local news. Fortunately they had a car that was working that day, and had gasoline (which is always a problem)..they went to pick up the baby sloth, wrapping her in their shirts to keep her warm and drove the short distance to The Toucan Rescue Ranch to leave her in our care.

As many of you know, we have raised 3 sloths successfully, little Georgie only weighed 400grams when he came in. Our guests named the little one Lily, and she weighed only 250 grams. Quite a challenge, but I was up to the task. Goats milk, feedings every 3 hours around the clock, constant checking of temperature and our little one was coming along.
She was very difficult to feed at first, and took about a week to get the hang of sucking on the syringe. Our vet Janet came up and confirmed what I was hearing in her lungs...trouble. We both suspected it was from milk she had inhaled while with the kind man who tried to feed her. Cough syrup was now a staple on her milk menu. A bad bought of loose stools from the cows milk one day, many days inbetween, and finally she was normalizing her bodily functions.

By week two she was gaining weight, her swollen eye was healing, but with a large cataract leaving her blind in that eye...but she was doing really well. We all sighed from relief and were very hopeful....but the lungs continued.
Another trip up from the vet, and still the same reaction...strange sounds in the lungs, but other than that all was well.

Week three came around and she started to reject food, and not gain weight. She was fussing and lethargic. Then she would be back on track and another day down. By the end of the week, Janet and I were both concerned...she came up at 8pm to see her one night, and by the 2 am feeding little Lily had totally collapsed. Once again I called Janet to come up, which she did, and took her back to her clinic for IV fluids. Having a vet that will come up at all hours day or night is a blessing....but that morning Lily passed away.

When I first started rescuing animals it was very difficult when one would die and I would not want to do a necropsy, however since then and in this case especially a necropsy was exactly what we needed. Janet found out that Lily only had one lung that was functioning, maybe from pneumonia when she was born...not sure, but because of that, her heart was working overtime and since she was growing her heart could not keep up and she died of heart failure. Totally natural and nothing we could of done to prevent it. I could put all the pieces of the puzzle together and realize just what had happened to her and it all made sense, as difficult as it was to accept her death.

I had a large tour coming in that morning, and had to focus on the other animals. I used to take Lily on walks around the property all wrapped up in her blankets. I took the walk alone that day, and have been avoiding writing about this, until my friend encouraged me to write her story. We are working with Minaet education and possibly Lincoln school to do an educational program about sloths and wildlife in the local schools in Santo Domingo. This will be very valuable and hopefully educational for the children. Milo and Millie will be great ambassadors for their species.

I find comfort knowing that Lily died warm and loved, not on the cold forest floor, or by the stones that killed her mother. As I write I am sitting next to the young keel billed toucans who are constantly begging for my attention to feed them....I allow myself time to think and miss Lily, but the little toucans need to be fed, the adult toucan that has been ill needs to be checked, guests are arriving, the macaws need more perches in their cage, the sloths need to be fed, supplies need to be ordered for Isadora the monkey's cage and the circle of life goes on at the Toucan Rescue Ranch.

We are setting up a "Lily fund" in honor of her to start fund raising for our Sloth Enclosure, and education program. Donations can be made via Pay Pal on our website, I am very very happy to report that with all your kind donations we are ready to build Isadora the monkey her large habitat, and Jou-Jou the kinkajou her new palace. Thank you so much, from all of us here at The Toucan Rescue Ranch.

1 comment:

  1. So sorry to hear about the loss of little Lily. I have done some wildlife rehab myself - though certainly not to the extent that you do - and I know well the heartache of losing little ones to whom you must, necessarily, give so much of your heart and soul as you fight to save them. Though, at least, as you said, this particular little one passed from the world warm, safe, and greatly loved, not in the brutal fashion her mother did. Rest in peace, sweet Lily.