Disclaimer: Warning! Not all animals survive their ordeal and some of the pictures below may contain disturbing images.
Paramaribo, 18 March 2016
Yesterday I felt depressed and deflated. Something that does not happen too often. My spirit felt hurt and broken. I was wondering, why I ever decided to work in animal rehabilitation, because dealing with the cases of animal abuse time and again cut deep into my soul.
The night before, Wednesday night, I received a severely wounded male three-toed sloth. He was brought by Kashmindra, a kind lady who found him somewhere on the street in her neighbourhood. A neighbourhood far from the city centre, but she wanted to provide help to him as soon as possible, and although it was late, she decided to drive to town and ended up at my place around 22:30. Sloths have thick fur, and I could see that the wounds were severe, but I could not assess how severe. The animal was not complaining when I picked him up and put him in a tub. He had eaten from the leaves of the branch to which he was clutching desperately with his healthy arm and foot. I asked Kashmindra some questions about the animal. She had called him Feni. “Feni,” she said, “because I found him and Feni means found.” After Kashmindra left, I put Feni in the big office room. Earlier that day I had harvested some fruits three-toed sloths really like, and I gave him one. He immediately started eating, and I posted his picture with a caption saying that he had a will to survive.
When I woke up, I went into the office to see how Feni was doing. He was hanging in there, and had finished the fruit. An animal that is eating is always a good sign in my trade. As soon as Rischmie arrived, I told her I was going to the vet with Feni. I was early, and within a few minutes was shown to one of the treatment rooms, where Audrey performed a first quick examination. However, because of the thick fur, we would have to shave the animal, so that a better assessment could be made of the wounds, and how to treat them. Feni was sedated and fast asleep within minutes while I started cutting away the hair around the wounds. After cutting away the hair, we would shave the remaining hair. As I was working, I started seeing how deep the cuts were, and was thinking that it would take a long time to heal. I told the animal technicians not to shave too much, because it would grow back only slowly.
When Audrey came back, she was shocked at how severe the wounds were. Audrey described them as “deep open fractures mid femur and mid humerus”, which are deep slash wounds on the left leg and arm, two in each, two straight through the bone, tendons on the left leg cut through. Right forearm claw, the fingers partially hacked off. Left forearm claw, two fingers severed at the nail bed, one finger still intact.
She told me that she could not perform the osteosynthesis, which is basically putting a pen through the bone to fix the fracture. She advised me to let this animal go, because even if it healed, he would never be able to use his left arm and leg again. I was not yet convinced, because he was so healthy, and he had looked at me in such a trusting manner… We called Leontine, the vet who would be able to perform bone surgery. After she heard the extent of the injuries, she also advised to put the animal to sleep. I hung up. I looked at Feni, he was sleeping so innocently. Not aware that I had to take this decision about whether he would live or die. But live what type of life? Thoughts were racing through my head. He was so strong, healthy…I would fight with him and for him. Then I looked again at his wounds. With his slow metabolism it would take a very long time to heal. And he would not be able to use his left leg and arm ever again. He would never again be able to live a free life in the canopy. I looked up again at Audrey, who was patiently waiting, and told her with a voice hoarse with emotion, that I would let him go, because I also thought it would be the best decision.
Disclaimer: Warning! DO NOT SCROLL DOWN IN CASE YOU ARE SENSITIVE TO SEVERE ANIMAL ABUSE THESE PICTURES CONTAIN DISTURBING IMAGES.