The Sloth Institute

The Sloth Institute Release Project: Ellen & Kermie

Kermit sleeping in vines
Kermie sleeping in vines

By Sam Trull, TSI Co-Founder/Sloth Director

The past few months have been a whirlwind—so many exciting new project ideas and so many projects that have been underway for a long time…finally showing the fruits of our labor! I am very excited to report that Ellen and Kermie’s release is underway! (For those of you who haven’t read about Ellen and Kermie, they are a pair of 2-toed sloths that were brought to KSTR within days of each other, at the time they were barely a week old, and had been orphaned by their mothers. I hand-raised the pair and last September, they were brought to the soft release cage).

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Kermie climbing at night
Kermie climbing at night

They have been going in and out of the release cage since last November. We started opening the door very gradually, beginning with only a few hours at a time—now, their door is open all night long. Kermie won the race…he was the first to leave the cage (it actually took a few days for anyone to finally climb out through the release door!) Both Kermie and Ellen are now coming in and out of the cage freely at night, and Ellen is even sometimes sleeping outside during the day at the top of the forest canopy or hidden at the top of a palm tree. In addition to spending most of their time in the forest and outside of the cage, Ellen and Kermie have also been tasting wild foods and interacting with wild sloths.

To say this is a dream come true would be an understatement…I have been dreaming of Kermie’s release since the day I first met him, almost three years ago. Now that it is not only happening, but he is happy and enjoying his freedom—it makes all of the struggles, fears, and traumatic times worth it. Kermie and Ellen are FREE. There isn’t anything much more beautiful than that.

Ellen being weighed after days in the forest eating only wild food.
Ellen being weighed after days in the forest eating only wild food.

Now all we can hope is that Kermie and Ellen continue to learn how to be wild and eventually fully integrate into the forest where they can support themselves completely without our help. This transition is not overnight and we will be studying them for at least two years (or longer if the support and funding continue!) but the fact that they are happy and we are learning how to release other two-toed sloths because of their journey IS one of the main reasons The Sloth Institute (TSI) first started. Ellen and Kermie are true ambassadors to their species. We are learning a lot about how to release hand-raised orphaned sloths because of them, as well as learning about wild sloths and how to make the rainforest a safer place for all wildlife.