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By Mario Vargas

Last Friday I rescued a drowning sloth on the Pacuare River! I’ve seen other rescues from the middle of the road and what not, but this is the first time I’ve had one on top of my Jackson while paddling!

I went paddling that day on the lower 3X- Siquirres run with some ‘gringo’ friends and students as well. I’m pretty sure had I not rescued the sloth it would have drowned.

I first saw the animal while playing on a sweet wave train. I was about to bust a ‘macho move’ and I saw the sloth in the water. I thought for sure it was dead so I reached out with my paddle and suddenly it moved and held on. I was hesitant because I didn’t want to sloth to tear my skirt. Sloths are actually pretty dangerous to handle because of their long, sharp claws. I brought it up on top of my boat but it slipped and fell off again.

For the sloth it turned out to be an ordeal as it fell off several times and even got caught up in a knarly whirlpool. It went under at least 8 seconds but when it came back up I was right there. This time I aggressively grabbed it with my hand. In the end the rescue took place over the course of 300- 400 meter river stretch. I eventually did get the sloth to shore.

I know that leaving sloth on the ground too far from trees is too dangerous because of potential predators, so eventually I ferried the sloth to the other river bank that isn’t so accessible by humans and the rainforest was near for the sloth to seek shelter in the canopy.