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May 29, 2018

Emergencies with happy endings...

The wounded anteater is taken from a garden
The wounded anteater is taken from a garden

This year we already had many rescues and releases. Rescues normally involve animals in difficult situations, where the humans are not looking forward to co-habiting with a sloth or anteater either in their house, under their roof, or on their roof. Some of these rescues were not the normal rescue, care and release cases. Two of these rescues both involved lesser anteaters, that were wounded so severely that we did not know if they would survive.

Fredy the Anteater

On January the 30th a lady called for an anteater rescue. She told us that the anteater was walking in the yard and climbing on the fence. "This behavior is unusual for a nocturnal animal,” I immediately remarked. The lady explained that she was afraid that the anteater was aggressive and therefore asked if we could rescue him before the neighbors' children got back from school. When we arrived at the destination we noticed that there were boards in front of the fence and the house. Before we could get to him we needed to climb over the fence. We found him laying on the ground in a corner with no movement and noticed that he had a wound on his head and on one eye. He was bleeding from these injuries. This was clearly the reason why the animal was moving during the day, it wanted to find a safe place.

Without hesitation we placed him in the kennel and drove to the veterinarian. There they anesthetized him and cleaned his wounds, gave intravenous fluids and antibiotics, as well as a painkiller. Probably, he had a concussion, and it was clear that there was blood in his eye. We took him with us to the GHFS office in the city to rest and for closer observation and further treatment. Together with the veterinarian we kept a close eye on him and the process to his recovery. He received intravenous fluids for several more days, until he produced his first pee. We also found the animal sleeping in typical anteater fashion, with the head between the hind legs, only showing its nose. In the last week before he was released we saw that he displayed more and more normal behaviour, when we cleaned the cage. He ate termites' nests at night, would drink the yoghurt we provided, something the animal clearly took a liking to. Within 20 days he was fully recovered and ready to be released in Saramacca. Treating the animal was no longer possible, as it would stand up in attack position, a clear sign it had recovered very well. We took the animal on the 17th of February to the Bloemendaal Apartments resort, where they assisted us with the boat to bring the animal to the uninhabited shore of the Saramacca river.

Highway Anteater

On Saturday the 7thof April again a wounded lesser anteater was reported. The person who had found the animal on the Highway had not actually seen that the animal was hit by a car, but it was lying near the road. He put it in a box and took it with him in the hope it would get better. At the end of the day he decided to call to get assistance. As I was in Saramacca at the sloth rescue center, I called our veterinary doctor Audrey to see if she could help. While the gentlemen were driving from the south to the vet, I was driving back from the west to the vet. When I arrived at vet Audrey’s office they were already there, and she had started the treatment. The animal came in bleeding from its nose. And while she treated it, it had some sort of epileptic seizure. There were no external wounds, no swelling. We can only guess what happened to her. After 3 days I saw her eating for the first time. After a few days more rest she progressed from limited mobility in the city to a bigger enclosure in Saramacca, where they continued to monitor her and provided her with her favorite food, termite’s nests. She was released after ten days with us.

We are grateful for these happy endings. Unfortunately, not all our rescues have a happy ending and each and every time it remains our single most important task to provide each individual animal with the best care we can get. We thank you, our Global Giving friends, as always for your continued support.

Sleeping in typical anteater fashion
Sleeping in typical anteater fashion
May 16, 2018

We're getting there...little by little

Jinkoe has grown a lot and is venturing out
Jinkoe has grown a lot and is venturing out

In our last report we mentioned that we are making the finishing touches to our facility. And this is indeed truly happening as you can see from the pictures in our 5thSloth Wellness Picture Report. The animal kitchen is funded by Welttierschutzgesellschaft with whom we signed a second partnership agreement that next to animal welfare will also focus on more information and awareness-raising, a training in the medicine of sloths, a sloth action plan, as well as a wildlife welfare workshop. So, that means it is going to be a busy year for us next to our rescues and releases. The intensive care unit and the animal treatment room were also completed as shown in above report with the financial support of Kosmos Energy and you, our GlobalGiving donors. Outstanding on the intensive care unit is the air-conditioning to ensure that the temperature inside this unit remains stable. The human kitchen was fully funded by our GlobalGiving donors. We sometimes do tend to forget that the humans providing care for our animals need to be taken care of as well.

We are now working on finishing the educational part of our center. The graphics and lay-outs are being prepared. Our star volunteer Wynne prepared everything in word and idea, now it’s the job of the graphic designer to bring it to life. Kosmos Energy provided funding for the educational part of our center and this will be brought into place in the coming month. We are now searching for a part-time educator who will receive visitors who have made an appointment. It is sometimes hard to explain to our visitors that we do not keep animals in cages and that there is no guarantee that if they visit they will see something. Ana and 19November remain around the center and show themselves erratically, and the same is true of Beertje. Although he does seem to enjoy getting his apples, pumpkin and rice from time to time.

Our three juveniles are not on show, so we do not allow visitors to come in that part of the center where they are. However, especially Jinkoe is now showing some independence and can regularly be seen in the trees next to the center. Ostrich is not as adventurous yet, although she is a month older. When I say she, I have to confess that as long as she is not one year old, we do not know for sure if Ostrich is a female. The same is true for Jinkoe. Avi is growing well, that is our two-fingered sloth baby who we allow to venture out of the incubator in the evening. Often that leads to trips into the jungle gym where the animal suddenly tends to feel insecure and it then starts screaming for its mother. When the red teddybear is held in front of Avi, she climbs so fast onto it, that you would not believe it is really a slo(w)th.

Our next big project is setting up a good storage facility, where we can keep our kennels, stocks and other utensils that cannot be stored in the main building. We hope this can be done with some financial aid from our donors in the coming months. As always, we thank you for your generous support for our sloth rescue center.

Animal kitchen ready for use...
Animal kitchen ready for use...
Access to the IC unit is being paved
Access to the IC unit is being paved
Beertje likes to visit and have a bite
Beertje likes to visit and have a bite
Animal caretaker Yvonne hand-feeding Beertje
Animal caretaker Yvonne hand-feeding Beertje
Feb 27, 2018

Beertje, the story of a 2-fingered sloth at GHFS

Meeting Beertje with his finders, 2014
Meeting Beertje with his finders, 2014

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a Dutch woman, Wynne, who came to Suriname to work as a schoolteacher deep in the jungle. In Paramaribo, she met Monique Pool and her sloths and anteaters and became a dedicated volunteer, as has happened to so many other people once they had met their first sloth. I know this, for this woman is me. And I would like to tell my story of Beertje, one of GHFS’s rescued animals, as our lives got entwined at this rescue center.

One day, 5 September 2014, GHFS got a call from a family in Meerzorg, at the eastern bank of the Suriname river. A 2-fingered sloth baby had been found. Yvonne, GHFS’ long term and completely dedicated surrogate sloth-mom set out for the rescue, together with me. That’s when we met Beertje. ‘Beertje’ means ‘small bear’ in Dutch, the name given to him by the family that had found him. And that was exactly what he looked like. Cute, round, soft and with fangs that he knew how to use! The little boy of this family had found him on the soccer field and wanted to keep him as a pet. Beertje’s mom had probably been killed. But as Beertje refused all food, the boy’s parents decided that he would be better off with GHFS. And thus Beertje started his life at GHFS, which was located in town then. He never got to like the goat milk, but he liked his apples, pumpkin and rice. And he thrived. But he was a lonely orphan, as he had only his stuffed toy to cling to as a surrogate mom and occasional human caretakers with his food.

Enters Wimpy in this story. Wimpy was an old male 3-fingered sloth. Miraculously, he was found at Monique’s parents house in town! Monique transferred him to her own house, aka the GHFS rescue center, and put him in an outdoor cage for observation. Beertje was occasionally put into this same cage so he could try his climbing skills. Then, to our surprise, Beertje was gone. Nowhere to be found in a not so big a cage! Until he was found clinging to Wimpy’s belly, who had curled himself into a ball for a nap! A 2-fingered sloth baby, adopted by a 3-fingered male sloth. The baby’s urge to cling to a living creature was greater than his fear for the unknown. And the old guy was as gentle as only a 3-fingered sloth can be. Thus started a happy period in Beertje’s life, save in Wimpy’s care.  Wimpy would be given a few hours off care each day, when he would eat his leaves, while nocturnal Beertje would sleep with the stuffed toy. Within months, Beertje outgrew his stepfather. And yet Wimpy did not refuse to carry him around. Until a sad morning, when Wimpy was found weak and dying of old age... Beertje was on his own again.

Beertje grew and grew, while his fur turned from dark brown into blond long hairs. From pup size, he was now of average dog size. He would sleep during the day and stroll around the cage during the night. Waiting for the opening of the new sloth rehabilitation center in Saramacca, far away from the urban environment, where he could start his soft release into the forest. Mid 2017 was the moment. Beertje moved into his jungle environment, together will all other sloths and anteaters then taken care of by GHFS. He was placed inside a new enclosure with his favourite food nearby and the door wide open. The jungle was all around him. But he did not move. Most other sloths and anteaters chose the jungle life after a little adjustment time. But Beertje still lived his lazy life inside the open cage. Had he become a pet, with no urge for jungle life?

Enters Wynne again. This January, I came back to Suriname to see the new Sloth Wellness Center for myself and finish the work on the education section. All sloths I had known before in town, had by then walked off, into the jungle. But after months, Beertje was still there. Why would he not leave? Inside the cage, he moved by hanging from branches and ropes. In order to go outside and into the nearest tree, he only had to cross 1 meter of ground space. Psychological barrier? ‘Floor is danger, rope is safe way?’ So I decided to make life even easier for Beertje. A rope was added, out of the door and into the tree. And then it happened. Before night fall, Beertje had taken his first steps outside, and up into the tree!

The next morning, he was soaken wet because of the rain and hanging from a thin tree bending over because of his weight, with no exit to another tree. Life in the jungle was not so easy after all. It took another rope to create an escape route to lead him out of that embarrassing position. The following days, Beertje was seen napping and eating high up in the trees surrounding his cage. Would he take up permanent residence there, as a few 3-fingered sloths had done? It has been a week now, since we last saw Beertje. He has chosen a jungle life after all. Beertje and I met at GHFS and now we both have moved on. GHFS’ volunteers will miss him, but more than that, we are happy. After all, wild animals belong in the wild. 

Beertje clinging to his foster father Wimpy
Beertje clinging to his foster father Wimpy
Beertje finally outside his cage!
Beertje finally outside his cage!
Beertje out in the jungle!
Beertje out in the jungle!
 
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