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!
Feb 15, 2018

From Suriname with Love

A Day of Friendship and Love for Nature
A Day of Friendship and Love for Nature

This Valentine’s Day the sloths send you love from their now almost finished home in Suriname. In the past months we have been working hard on making the finishing touches to the separate rooms, and your donations have given us the financial support to actually do this. One corporate donor has taken on the outfitting of the intensive care unit and the related emergency care room, as well as the educational component of our center. Which brings me to the work of our star volunteer for this year, Wynne Minkes, who is back to finish her work on the educational part of our facility. Minkes received the Sloth Award 2017 this past Monday.

Education at the Sloth Wellness Center

Apart from a sanctuary for sloths, anteaters and armadillos (the Superorder of the Xenarthra), the Sloth Wellness Centre is also intended as an educational center. Here, GHFS will teach (school)children and adults from Suriname and abroad about these extraordinary South American animals and the dangers of deforestation. This type of education is much needed, as the average Surinamer still associates the forest with a scary and undesirable place to be in, and wildlife is mostly seen as a source of meat or even vermin that needs to be exterminated!

With beautiful photo's and interesting facts, we want to create sympathy and awe for the Xenarthra. Thus, we hope to create a future generation of Surinamers with more appreciation for its lush forest and its inhabitants. Few realize how unique Suriname is in the world, as it is still covered with 93% of pristine Amazon jungle! There will also be some activating 'sloth' games for children and adults alike.

The space on the ground floor between the two shipping containers is designated as the education space. One part of the information will be about the sloths, anteaters and armadillos occurring in Suriname (2 sloth species, 3 anteater species and 5 armadillo species). And all other information will be on GHFS' care taking of these animals, on the harmful effects of deforestation, and on actions that visitors can take themselves. We hope to show the results of our work in our next report!

First rescues of 2018

Where we left off in 2018 in our last report with Igor, the giant anteater, we started our year with the rescue and release of the tiniest anteater that lives in Suriname. The silky anteater. This animal that is often mistaken for a baby is with its 260 g an adult and an amazing nocturnal canopy dweller. Unfortunately, we only receive these animals from deforestations, because otherwise they do not come to the forest floor. As these animals are extremely sensitive, this adult silky anteater was released in the forest sanctuary behind the Sloth Wellness Center on the day we received it. For many years it was assumed that there was only one single species occurring throughout the whole of South America, but Flavia Miranda, our anteater friend from Brazil, established in a paper published at the end of last year that there are in fact 7 different species.

We thank you for your continued support and are looking forward to maybe seeing you at our center in the future.

The tiniest anteater in Suriname released again
The tiniest anteater in Suriname released again
Wynne inspecting if container is well-positioned
Wynne inspecting if container is well-positioned
Wynne Minkes receives Sloth Award 2017
Wynne Minkes receives Sloth Award 2017
 
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