Friday 14 December 2012

Meet Teddy

It's my pleasure to introduce you to Teddy:

Have you ever seen a cuter face? Teddy is an adorable baby sloth (a Southern Two-toed Sloth, to be exact). I made his acquaintance on my recent trip to the Iwokrama rainforest in Guyana. He would normally be hanging on tightly to his momma high in the tree canopy but was found about six weeks ago stranded on the ground. Sadly, it appears that he was orphaned when his mother was killed by a harpy eagle - the apex predatory bird of the South American rainforest. How he survived is a mystery but he's definitely one lucky little sloth not only to have survived the attack but to have been found by kindly and knowledgeable humans.

This is Teddy with his human foster parent, Leon Moore:

Leon is a guide based at the Atta Lodge, near where Teddy was found (I'm told another local guide, Ron Allicock, first spotted Teddy). Leon takes visitors on tours of the rainforest that include a precarious man-made walkway suspended from trees a hundred feet above the forest floor, offering a bird's-eye-view of the forest.

The rainforest canopy walkway.
A Yellow-green Grosbeak doing some human watching.

In addition to being a knowledgeable guide, Leon is an avid birdwatcher and nature photographer, and is obviously very devoted to his work. His face lights up when he talks about it, and he can name even the most obscure bird species just from the sounds they make or a fleeting glimpse. He's also very devoted to Teddy. In fact, the other guides jokingly refer to Teddy as "Teddy Moore".

For lack of a sloth momma to hang on to, Teddy makes do with a wooden board covered in thick layers of fabric. His long, sharp, hook-like claws are built for climbing trees and hanging from branches, and would be uncomfortable, to say the least, for a human to tolerate. Plus the goal is to keep him from becoming completely habituated to human contact.

It's not perfect, but under the circumstances Teddy is making it work. He can clamber on top to gaze at the world:

Or when he gets tired...

... he can curl up below for a nap:

Or use it as a "high chair" during meal times:

Teddy is being fed formula by Leon every two hours, supplemented with morsels of fruit and bits of greenery such as lettuce. The hope is that six months from now he can be released into the wild. Of course it's entirely possible that the bond between Teddy and Leon will be strong enough to keep Teddy hanging around (pardon the pun) in the trees that surround the lodge, just like these semi-tame, turkey-sized Black Curacaos who wander the grounds.

The story of Teddy and Leon is just another example of the commitment Iwokrama staff demonstrate for their work. They're passionate about the well being of the rainforest and its inhabitants, dedicated to the management and preservation of this invaluable resource, and enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge with visitors. Plus they're willing and able to give a helpless little forest orphan a second chance at life.

I think Teddy is in very good hands.

For more information about the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development, visit

Please note that all photos are protected by copyright.


  1. Teddy has, without a doubt, one of the most lovable faces I have ever seen!!!

  2. Glad to see Teddy is still hanging in there - I met him when he was about 4 1/2 weeks old and got to hold him, board and all. He's even cuter "in person."