Venezuelan couple nurse injured sloths at home shelter

[August 8, 2021: The Brighter Side of News]


The Rodríguezes have constructed climbing frames to simulate the sloths’ natural environment. (CREDIT: Haydée and Juan Carlos Rodríguez)


Juan Carlos Rodriguez and his wife Haydee were taking their dog to the vet when they saw an injured sloth on the road that had fallen from a power line after apparently suffering an electric shock.


They took the Brown-throated sloth to the vet. Unfortunately, despite being saved, the animal lost two hind limbs and the claws of its left arm.


The sloth's injuries meant he could not survive in the wild, so he has stayed on as a pet in the Rodriguez's two-story home in San Antonio de Los Altos - a Caracas suburb surrounded by verdant forest that is a natural habitat for sloths.


Juan and Haydee named him Chuwie, after the Star Wars character Chewbacca. The couple then decided to open a shelter for other vulnerable animals in their home.



Rescued sloths at the home of Haydée and Juan Carlos Rodríguez, San Antonio de Los Altos, near Caracas, Venezuela. (CREDIT: Haydée and Juan Carlos Rodríguez)


The Chuwie the Gentleman Rescue Center has so far rehabilitated more than 40 sloths and returned them to the wild. "We want to be the NASA of sloths," said Haydee Rodriguez, referring to the U.S. space agency, describing plans to conduct research on sloths due to limited knowledge of the animals in Venezuela.


By the middle of next year, they hope to set aside 400 square meters (4,306 square feet) of their 1,100-meter (11,840 square feet) property to be able to treat 50 sloths at a time. Funding needs are limited because sloths generally eat leaves and veterinaria friends in Chile send them donations of medicine.


The Rodriguezes recently spent nine days giving treatment to sloth "43" for an eye injury and a respiratory infection after a nearby family found it in the parking lot of their building. On July 30, they led sloth Number 43 - a 4.1-kg (nine-pound) female - to the woods at their edge of the property and watched as she walked off through the undergrowth.




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