Harpo the 2-toed Sloth
As a natural science illustrator I love to travel and see animals in the wild. I have been traveling to Costa Rica for 25 years and it still is one of my favorite destinations. The diversity of the flora and fauna is amazing. The first place that I stayed in Costa Rica was Aviarios del Caribe, owned by Judy and Luis Arroyo. It was a bird sanctuary that was situated on Caribbean side of the country surrounded by 300 hectars of river, streams, ocean and rainforest. In 1991 there was an earthquake that registered 7.8 on the ricther scale and Aviarios was 2 miles from the epicenter. The Caribbean plate lifted up and the lagoon went from about 10 feet deep to about 4 feet deep. The river was changed forever. The Arroyo's rebuilt the buildings and continued to offer bird watching tours, but it was now done by canoe rather than a pantoon boat. It was during that time that a local family witnessed a car run over a sloth trying to cross the road with a tiny baby on her back. The baby was thrown from the mother to the side of the road. Unfortunately the mother did not survive but the children brought the sloth to Judy. This was just the beginning for the Arroyo's. Aviarios del Caribe is now a recognized sloth rescue by the Costa Rican Government. They have approximately 140 sloths currently living at the sanctuary. They come in as abandoned babies, burn and injured victims, and abused pets. Each one has a unique story. The sloths that come in as babies are unable to be released because they are dependent on their mothers to teach them to survive in the wild. Adult sloths that come in sick or injured are released back into the wild if they are fully recovered. Those that are not able to go back to the wild are given a permanent home at the sanctuary. There is very little research about sloths. Judy is now the foremost leader in understanding them with her 20 years of first hand experience. The sloth sanctuary has been part of my Artistic Adventure Tour for the past 15 years. During the tour we spend the day learning about sloth habitat, anatomy, characteristics. We sketch, photograph and have an intimate experience with one of nature's gentle creatures. I am currently at the sloth sanctuary and have been helping feed the babies in the nursery. Here is a little video clip of my favorite baby, Harpo, a two-toed sloth.