Sam Trull has been working with animals since she was a teenager. In 2014, she realised her passion for sloths and co-founded The Sloth Institute in Costa Rica.
Two years later, she released her first book, “SlothLove,” filled with adorable photographs and stories of the orphaned and abandoned sloths she has helped nurture back to health and release into the wild.
Below, Sam has shared a preview of some of the cute creatures featured in her book, as well as an inside look at her sloth orphanage.
The Sloth Institute focuses on sloth research, conservation and rehabilitation. Sam and her team of volunteers take care of abandoned babies with the ultimate goal of releasing them back into the wild.
Because humans don't know a lot about sloths' biology, ecology, and social habits, TSI is focused on education and increasing scientific knowledge about sloths.
The Sloth Institute is not open to the public, as it is in the animals' best interest to avoid humans as much as possible as they prepare to re-assimilate into the wild.
'All of the sloths we work with are in the process of becoming wild, or are already wild! Sloths are much happier when they can go about their day with no interference,' Trull said.
The Sloth Institute trains sloths to go back into the wild after they have been hand-raised. They also track the habits of wild sloths, so they can measure the progress of those released.
In the wild, three-toed sloths stay with their mother for about one year, and two-toed sloths for up to two years, so hand-raising sloths is a time-consuming process.
TSI practices 'soft release' therapy, where animals gradually explore the wild while still being cared for by volunteers.
As Trull explains, 'We are able to provide a 'safety net' of shelter and food while (the sloths) learn how to find those things on their own. They live in a very large enclosure in the forest, and once the door is opened they are able to come and go as they please… until one day they no longer want to come back and they are eating entirely wild food.'
Ultimately, Trull and The Sloth Institute hope to figure out and share with the public the best ways to care for sloths and keep them in the wild.
If you want to see some sloths, the Sloth Institute works with Kids Saving the Rainforest and Toucan Rescue Ranch, two rescue/rehab centres in Costa Rica that offer tours and short-term volunteer programs. There are also eco resorts that offer responsible sloth viewing.
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