Karma CaseyKids Saving the Rainforest

In Memoriam of Monty

By Karma Casey

Monty headerHello fellow Quepolandia readers! Its Karma Casey, the spokes kid from Kids Saving The Rainforest, a wildlife rescue and sanctuary in Quepos, Costa Rica. This month I am dedicating my article to a kind-hearted, sweet-souled, three-toed sloth named Monty. I am very sad to report he passed away after spending nine months in Kids Saving The Rainforest’s wildlife nursery and making a huge place in the hearts of everyone who knew him.

About nine months ago, Monty was seen falling from a tree in Manuel Antonio National Park. The Kids Saving the Rainforest professional wildlife rescue team rushed to save him, and he was brought in to the KSTR veterinary clinic where he was examined by the vet, Dr. Carmen Soto. Dr. Soto was unable to find any visible injuries, and he was held for a few days under observation to ensure he would not start developing any new signs of injury or illness. At the time he fell, Monty was about six to seven months old.

Within days, Monty seemed fine and Dr. Soto determined he was ready to be released back into his rainforest home at the National Park. However, as Monty was being observed following his release, he soon fell again. Monty was returned to Kids Saving the Rainforest for further examination. The KSTR team would not give up until they knew what was wrong with little Monty, and how he could be helped.

Monty in a treeAfter more days of observation and examination, the nursery manager and the clinic team at KSTR began to suspect there was something not quite right going on with Monty’s heart. Our friends at SINAC, a government agency in Costa Rica that works with the National Park system and helps wildlife, helped give Monty a ride to an appointment the KSTR team had made for him at a cardiologist all the way in San Jose. What a long way for such a little sloth!

The cardiologist, a heart specialist, diagnosed Monty with two congenital heart defects. That means he was born with these problems. Dr. Soto contacted some people she knew who were using experimental medicine for heart problems, but sadly, Monty was not a candidate and there was nothing that modern medicine could do to cure him. What’s more, Monty’s heart problems were progressive, which means they would only get worse and worse as time went on.

Monty returned from his appointment at the cardiologist, and it was official that he would never be able to survive on his own in the wild again. Everyone who was rooting for Monty to go free was saddened by this news. However, the dedicated team at Kids Saving the Rainforest was determined to give Monty the best possible life that they could. Dani Dion, the nursery mom, did everything she possibly could to make every day calm, stress free, and as happy as possible for little Monty.

Monty close-upFresh leaves like Guarumo (cecropia), mango, and Monty’s favorite, cinnamon leaves, were collected for him daily with care, picking the best leaves to offer to him as he was quite a picky eater! Monty was brought out to climb in a special jungle gym with a beautiful view of the surrounding rainforest. He was given fresh water and spent time basking in the sun or cooling off in the shade.

Monty was well-cared for and loved by so many in his nine precious months at Kids Saving the Rainforest. Had the rescue team not brought him in, Monty very likely would not have made it past that fateful day he fell from a tree in Manuel Antonio National Park. But poor Monty’s heart was bound to stop beating sooner or later, and one day this February his little heart made its last beat. His heart just couldn’t take the stress any longer.

This is a lesson we can learn from Monty that will help all of us respect other sloths and not put them under unnecessary stress. Three toed sloths have delicate little hearts and they cannot take the stress of being handled. While Monty had a defective heart from the beginning and he was kept in a stress-free environment by experienced wildlife professionals, any sloth who is handled or messed with by humans might suffer the same fate and die of a heart attack.

Monty in a hammockIt is illegal in Costa Rica to handle any wildlife, but sloths, in particular, are solitary and want to be left alone. Never hold or attempt to touch a sloth, and if someone is charging money for a “sloth experience” and what you think you want most is a photo with you cuddling a cute little sloth, think of Monty. As soon as you pick up that sloth, his poor little heart will start racing, and he will be under a tremendous amount of stress. If you care about sloths, respect them by observing them in nature up in the trees where they belong. Do not support anyone allowing you to handle wildlife, and since it’s illegal, you can report it to MINAE or SINAC, the government groups in charge of making sure animals are wild and free in Costa Rica.

Even though Monty died and many hearts at Kids Saving the Rainforest were broken, this special little three toed sloth had a love, and care filled life. Sometimes that’s what working with animals is about. Giving them a good, natural life, and sometimes you have to say good bye. But Monty the sweet three toed sloth will always be remembered. If you would like to know more about Monty, go to the Kids Saving The Rainforest Facebook page. And a big thanks to our nursery mom, Dani. She cared so much about Monty, and all the rest of the animals, too.

That’s going to sum up this article. And remember, if you ever find injured or orphaned wildlife, send a WhatsApp message to 88-ANIMAL. This goes directly to our veterinarian team, and they can come to the rescue! Be the change! Read me next month!

In loving memory of Monty.