While Sam Trull was exploring the jungles of Costa Rica, she encountered many fascinating critters, but one in particular stole her heart: the sloth.
After a 15-year conservation career working with primates and other wild mammals in different countries, Sam left her familiar home in the United States to dedicate her life to researching and protecting these 2- and 3-toed vegetarians.
She co-founded the Sloth Institute of Costa Rica in August 2014 and began amassing photographs, as well as data. Her new 100-page photo book, “Slothlove,” is a collection of dozens of portraits of adorable, googley-eyed sloth orphans that have become her furry foster children.
“The first time I held a baby sloth I was learning how to feed her. Her tiny claws clutched tightly to my shirt, and her nose wiggled with innocent perfection,” writes Sam in Slovelove. “I was told baby sloths don’t usually survive well in captivity, and there was a good chance she wouldn’t make it.”
“Looking down at her sleeping face, I made her a promise that I would do everything in my power to give her the life she deserved. I would always put her needs first, and I would make sure she felt safe, comfortable—and loved. That was two and a half years ago. Not only did that sloth survive, but there are now eleven orphaned sloths that I care for around the clock.”
Her ongoing research is becoming one of the most in-depth long term behavioral studies of the tree-dwelling jungle creatures.
Sam, who studied zoology in North Carolina and primate conservation in the U.K., has logged over 15,000 hours of sloth study over the last three years.
In 2014, she made scientific history by performing the first ever sloth C-section.
“Having lost their mothers to dogs, electric wires, cars, or general forest destruction, they come in scared and alone and in need of a new place to call home,” she explained in the introduction to Slothlove.
“In the photos in this book, the sloths aren’t just looking at a camera lens; they are looking at what they perceive as their mom,” says Sam.
She hopes that by sharing their photos, stories, and facts—not only in the book, but through lectures and education for the Costa Rican locals who live among them—she can save more sloth lives.
You can support her sloth conservation efforts by adopting a sloth at the Institute’s website – and even volunteer if you plan a trip to the Central American country.