Passport
Full Episode
A Sloth Named Velcro

In 2000 in the jungles of Panama, a young journalist, named Ana, has a chance encounter with a tiny orphaned sloth, which she names Velcro. For nearly two years, the pair is inseparable until finally Ana travels up a remote river to reintroduce Velcro back to the wild. This is the story Ana’s return to Central and South America to see how much has changed since Velcro came into her life. Sloths, once largely ignored, have become a hot topic of scientific researchers. New studies are showing that they’re not so sloth-like after all, that they have social structures, they move like primates, and that males keep small harems. Sloth sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers are also springing up throughout the Americas as development displaces these gentle creatures. Shot on location in Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia this is a story of friendship and a growing network of people working to learn more about sloths in order to protect them.

Transcript Print

NARRATOR: With its Mona Lisa smile, it's such an enigmatic creature -- the sloth -- a strange little character from the rainforest canopy.

WOMAN: When you first see a sloth in the road, you have no idea what that thing is.

NARRATOR: We've never known very much about them, but orphans from the forest are teaching us a lot.

MAN: These animals are so interesting.

Their digestive tract is like a cow, their body temperature like a reptile, and the way they move more like a primate.

NARRATOR: But for Ana Salceda, raising a tiny sloth named Velcro was not about science.

It was a remarkable journey into motherhood.

SALCEDA: For nearly two years, Velcro and I were inseparable.

She lived with me in my apartment.

We traveled together.

Velcro changed my life.

NARRATOR: And Velcro was just the beginning of a whole new relationship with this curious and captivating creature.

NARRATOR: Ana Salceda is a print and television journalist who moved from her native Spain to explore the wilds of Panama.

In her adopted home, she published the country's first environmental and natural history magazine.

She's lived and worked with remote indigenous communities.

But this jungle holds a place in her heart for one special reason.

It's a story that began some 14 years ago -- when Ana first met this pint-sized baby sloth, just one month old.

It was one of many recent refugees that conservationists were struggling to care for, and Ana was asked to pitch in.

SALCEDA: When she came into my life, she was a beautiful tiny sloth.

Honestly, my first reaction was, 'I can't take care of this animal.

I don't know anything about sloths.'

Besides, my work demanded constant traveling, and I didn't see myself being an adoptive mother all of a sudden.

NARRATOR: Despite her reservations, Ana decided to help.

She named the little female 'Velcro,' for obvious reasons.

With each passing day, as Ana and Velcro bonded, bad news mounted.

Most of the orphaned sloths were dying.

Nobody could figure out how to keep them alive.

Under Ana's constant care, Velcro miraculously survived and then thrived.

SALCEDA: For nearly two years, Velcro and I were inseparable.

We lived together, and I took her on assignment.

Velcro changed my life.

But I always knew there would come a time when I would have to release her back into the wild.

NARRATOR: It is here, off the banks of the Coclé River, that Ana found the perfect place to set Velcro free.

The forest is far from the city, pristine and largely free of predators.

[Squawks] But at first, Velcro was reluctant to take her natural place up in the trees.

Yet with each visit here, Velcro slowly severed her ties to the city and to Ana.

Ana hopes that Velcro is still thriving in this green jungle where she truly belongs.

What Ana has left are sweet memories.

This is the story of the incredible friendship that Ana and Velcro once shared.

But it's also a story about a journey -- Ana's quest to plumb the mysterious lives of sloths to see what's been learned since Velcro's day.

What she discovers will make you take a second look at these beguiling animals.

For thousands of years, sloths have lived exclusively in the treetops of Central and South America.

Early scientists thought they were evolutionary oddities, one step away from extinction -- and it's easy to see why.

To survive, sloths rely on leaves -- the nutritional equivalent of junk food.

They move slowly and rest frequently to conserve energy... Which makes them an easy target for harpy eagles.

A sloth's only defense is its claws -- a feature that helps distinguish species.

There are two-toed and three-toed varieties.

At first glance, sloths might appear boring.

But there's more to them than meets the eye.

Sloths are the only mammals that rotate their heads, like owls.

Their stomachs are chambered, like a cow's.

They can take a month to digest their food.

Certain moths have evolved to live exclusively in their fur.

There may be more than a hundred moths in a mix of species on a single sloth.

To maintain healthy moth populations, sloths go to great lengths and take great risks.

Once a week, sloths venture to the ground to defecate -- and the moths go along for the ride.

Here sloths run into relatives like anteaters and armadillos.

But they are also likely to encounter predators, like ocelots.

New science suggests that three-toed sloths brave the danger because they have a lot to gain.

The moths lay their eggs exclusively in the sloth's dung, so the trip helps ensure future moth generations.

In return, the moths provide fertilizer for the garden of green algae that sloths maintain in their fur.

The algae serves as camouflage, but it is also the source of high-energy food that supplements the sloth's poor diet.

It's a complete and portable ecosystem of sloth, moth, and algae that works for everyone.

And now we're discovering more of their secrets as sloths are pushed out of the jungles and into our lives.

In Panama, development is booming, fueled in large part by the expansion of the Canal.

But as jungles disappear, critical habitat is vanishing.

Without trees to climb, sloths are forced to take to the open road.

On the ground, they are ill equipped to walk on hooked claws.

Throughout Panama, sloth crossings are on the rise, and they are often deadly.

In fact, it was a car that struck and killed Velcro's mother.

At that time, Ana was reporting on the Canal expansion plans.

MAN: Ana! How are you doing?

SALCEDA: Great. Great.

This is unbelievable.

[Speaking Spanish] NARRATOR: Ana was writing about a program to relocate wildlife.

And she was struggling to keep Velcro alive.

SALCEDA: I had to give her the bottle every two or three hours, and two months later I was exhausted.

Then one day, I noticed that Velcro was not doing well.

Her pupils began to dilate, and her breathing became labored.

Before I knew it, she was limp and lifeless.

I didn't know what to do.

NARRATOR: On instructions from colleagues, Ana forced Velcro to drink lots of fluids.

She used her own body to keep Velcro warm, holding her for nearly 48 hours straight.

With each day, Velcro slowly recovered.

It was a close call -- too close for Ana.

SALCEDA: Many things had to change.

My apartment was not the right place for her.

She needed sun, exercise, the jungle.

So we moved to a house that was surrounded by cecropias and other species of trees that were part of her diet.

NARRATOR: Ana stopped using air conditioning, which bothered Velcro's lungs.

But the key to her success was that she let Velcro live on her body for almost 10 months.

They were inseparable, just as mother and baby in the wild.

Today, Ana is back, reporting on the final phase of the animal relocation project.

NARRATOR: While the official relocation plan has been successful, many sloths are still on the run.

[Horn honks] And their fate would be sealed, if not for everyday citizens coming to their aid.

Christy Fromel patrols for sloths on a road not far from the Canal.

FROMEL: When you first see a sloth in the road, you have no idea what that thing is.

You're looking at it and you're thinking, 'What is that ball of leaves that's just over there that looks like it might be moving?'

And then you know what, sometimes they stick their head up and they're kind of looking around, and you're like, 'Oh, my God, what is that?'

You know, the times that I've helped move them out of the way, they're still strange.

They move really slow.

They've got like this funky crawl that they do, and they're just -- they're totally bizarre.

They really are.

Oh, yeah!

Oh yeah, look!

There's one right here in the road.

NARRATOR: With a sloth in danger, Christy quickly becomes all business.

Before handling the animal, she takes a few precautions.

[Horn honks] FROMEL: The first time I handled a sloth, it was a bizarre feeling.

It was, you know, you pick it up, and you expect it to be really solid and substantial, and they're very light and very, very delicate.

And, you know, they squeak, and they make noises, and they're really neat.

[Car approaches] NARRATOR: Throughout Panama, the sloth patrol is growing.

And each roadside encounter draws attention to the plight of these gentle animals.

A creature all but forgotten now finds it's making plenty of new friends.

Many of the sloths rescued on the road are given homes in national parks.

The Metropolitan Park is a jewel found in the heart of Panama City.

Here, sloths have free rein to casually roam the canopy.

Safe and sound, sloths return to old routines: eat, rest, sleep, and repeat.

Sunbathing is another must.

Sloths, like reptiles, need solar energy to maintain their body temperature, which is the lowest among mammals.

For sloths in Panama, it doesn't get better than this.

But there are no facilities here yet to care for injured animals.

So Ana heads for Costa Rica, where tourism development is encroaching on the sloths' rainforests, and centers are emerging to care for the displaced.

The Jaguar Rescue Center is like a halfway house for orphaned and injured animals.

The goal is to rehabilitate each guest and return it to the wild.

That includes sloths.

I'm preparing some vegetables for the two-toed sloths.

They eat green beans, carrots, and also chayote, which is this vegetable here.

We also provide them with hard-boiled eggs.

They eat insects in the wild, and eggs, so that gives them extra proteins as well.

So greedy!

NARRATOR: Over the years, the caretakers here have learned a lot about sloths, homing in on what Ana had to discover on her own.

For Ana, visiting the Center brings back a flood of memories.

But it's also a time to make new friends, such as Rosie, a two-toed sloth, just like Velcro.

SALCEDA: This Center is amazing.

The animals here are very lucky.

I wish this place existed when I was raising Velcro.

NARRATOR: Babies like Rosie are arriving at the Center in larger numbers -- sometimes as many as five per month.

Rosie came to our Center a month ago more, or less, very tiny and very dehydrated.

NARRATOR: Most new arrivals end up at Encar's house for intense round-the-clock care.

Feeding is a time for bonding.

But despite the temptation, Encar knows she can't get too close.

Rosie -- like all the rescued sloths -- will one day be returned to the wild.

After ten years of caring for sloths, there's still much Encar wants to know.

GARCIA: I need to learn.

I want to discover them.

It's, well, one of my first goals here right now -- I want to discover the sloths. Absolutely.

Finally!

NARRATOR: Dr. Bill Scherrer, a veterinary surgeon, and his wife, Karen, have brought much-needed medicines and supplies to the Jaguar Rescue Center from California.

We brought you an IV pole.

NARRATOR: Karen is a veterinary nurse.

KAREN: And these are very, very tiny needles for your very, very tiny veins for your sloths.

NARRATOR: On the Scherrers' first trip to the Center, the sloths made an irresistible impression.

They were hooked.

KAREN: I've never seen a face like this before.

From the science aspect of it, these animals are so unbelievably confusing and impressive.

Their digestive tract is more like a cow.

Their habitat and the way they move, more like a primate.

They're so different.

Their body temperature changes in response to the environment, more like a reptile.

These guys are so interesting, so very interesting.

And the more we learn -- the more I learn about them -- the more I just hunger to know more.

Aww!

NARRATOR: Bill is not alone in his newfound curiosity.

Many are starting to question old sloth myths.

Maybe they are more active and roam bigger territories.

Maybe they're not so sleepy and sloth-like after all.

And is it possible that sloths are not solitary creatures?

As Velcro was growing up, Ana noticed that she was not a loner.

I found myself having play dates for Velcro.

And believe me, more than one two-toed sloth can be a handful.

At that time, everybody thought that sloths were really lonely animals, but I could see that she had this social part, which was very surprising.

At that time, there was another thing that struck me, which was, they are supposed to spend their lives sleeping.

NARRATOR: But Ana noticed that Velcro was up all the time.

SALCEDA: So I was wondering, is it possible that I am doing something wrong, that I am raising a hyperactive sloth?

NARRATOR: Bryson Voirin and his colleagues are helping to overturn one of the biggest sloth myths.

He is investigating the sleep habits of sloths.

How long do they actually slumber?

VOIRIN: Before my research on sloths, no one had ever done sleep recordings of wild animals in the wild.

So they had done a sleep study on sloths, but it was sloths in a cage in a laboratory, and they found they sleep like 15, 16 hours a day.

And they live up to their slothful name.

NARRATOR: Bryson's sleep study takes a more natural tack, which means he has to climb to them.

A potential subject is about 75 feet up in the canopy, just within range of his climbing lines.

Each step will take him a few inches closer to his quarry.

And he hopes it stays put.

Even though the sloth is the world's slowest mammal, catching one can be tricky.

By the time Bryson gets in position, the subject of his quest could be two trees over.

And then he has to climb down and start again.

VOIRIN: I often get outrun by sloths and outfoxed by sloths.

So that doesn't say much about my speed, but it does happen, because they know exactly where to go in the canopy, and they know all the connections.

NARRATOR: Having reached the canopy, Bryson acts fast.

VOIRIN: It's unique that I get to spend a lot of time up close and personal with my study animal.

And it's almost like developing a relationship with them.

Don, do you want to grab the sloth?

Yeah.

VOIRIN: This, you can see, is a male sloth.

It has this very bright orange pattern on its back with short hair, and we think that's actually a scent-marking gland.

So you'll see some of the alpha males will have a really big bright patch, whereas other ones will have a smaller patch.

It's almost like sloth cologne that attracts all the female sloths.

NARRATOR: Careful not to stress the animal, Bryson gets to work.

VOIRIN: We'll just trim a little bit of hair.

VOIRIN: It's nice how calm they are.

Yeah, makes it easier.

Makes it so much easier.

You don't have to sedate them or anything.

It's just -- They're very nice and calm.

NARRATOR: Next, he glues on a cap.

Within the cap there are electrodes that monitor brain activity.

The information will be captured by a recorder, which will run up to two weeks.

VOIRIN: And it will go just right there, almost making him look a little bit like Abraham Lincoln.

Good.

[Faint electronic chirping] NARRATOR: The final step is to place a tracking collar on the animal.

The collar will enable Bryson to find the sloth more easily when it's time to retrieve the data.

Within each chip, Bryson has a concise record, a daily log, which he can read.

The jagged line signifies a high level of brain activity, indicating that a sloth is awake.

The rolling lines reveal when a sloth is sleeping.

The smoother the curve, the deeper the sleep.

When Bryson compares dozens of records among his test subjects, he finds a striking pattern -- sloths sleep far less than previously thought, about nine hours, like us.

Bryson's findings are in sharp contrast to previous studies that suggested sloths slept their lives away.

VOIRIN: So it's a really fascinating difference, because, you know, why is it that an animal in the wild is sleeping so much less than an animal in captivity?

But if you think about it, you know, a captive animal -- it's being fed, it doesn't have to worry about being eaten in its cage, maybe it feels safe, maybe it's stressed out, maybe it's depressed, who knows?

So wild sloths, they're actually, you know, asleep a lot less than we thought, so they are awake and thinking and moving around a bit, and, you know, they're not quite as slothful as we originally thought.

NARRATOR: Bryson's insight is one of many recent discoveries changing the way we think about sloths.

VOIRIN: When sloths were first described in the scientific literature a couple hundred years ago, the guy that described them said if they had one more fault, they would fail as a species altogether.

'They have terrible eyesight, they can't move very fast.'

You know, 'they're just an evolutionary failure.'

When in fact there's a lot going on that we didn't really know about.

NARRATOR: It wasn't until 2001 that we discovered that the island of Escudo de Veraguas held a special sloth secret.

Separated from mainland Panama by ten miles and almost 9,000 years, the island and its isolation fueled the evolution of a unique sloth species.

When the new sloth was first discovered, news spread like wildfire among scientists and journalists.

It was a fresh case study into the way evolution shapes life.

Bryson has six individuals tagged, and he and Ana are on the trail of one female.

Her name is Tina, and when she was last seen, she was pregnant.

VOIRIN: This habitat is perfect for sloths.

They can crawl all over the place.

SALCEDA: Yeah, perfect for sloths, not for humans.

NARRATOR: Following Tina's signal, Bryson and Ana are drawn deeper into the mangroves.

And suddenly, the silence is broken.

[Sloth squeals] SALCEDA: What is that?

VOIRIN: That is a female sloth, actually.

They make that screaming call when they want to mate.

I think it's back over that way.

NARRATOR: A sign they may be getting closer.

Encouraged by the calls of the distant female, Bryson and Ana wade on.

And soon there's another good sign.

VOIRIN: Look right over there. There's a male sloth!

SALCEDA: Wow, cool.

VOIRIN: I'll bet you he's responding to that female that was calling.

NARRATOR: The new species is island-sized -- about 40% smaller than its mainland cousins, with a more compact face.

Naturally, it's called the Pygmy Sloth.

This little three-toed sloth is closely related to the brown-throated variety, but it's had almost 9,000 years to go it alone.

Though much of the Pygmy's lifestyle has yet to be observed, Bryson has found they sleep the same number of hours as their mainland cousins.

But pygmies do show a striking adaptation to their offshore island.

They are the only sloths to swim in the salty sea.

They paddle between clumps of mangroves in their search for forage -- but they never swim far enough to reach the mainland.

When the pygmies were discovered almost 15 years ago, scientists estimated there were as many as 500 of them.

But the current count is approximately 100.

They are among the rarest mammals on Earth and the only one of the six living species listed as critically endangered.

The main threat is subsistence fishermen, who rely on the mangroves for firewood and lumber.

As the trees disappear, so does the pygmy's habitat and its main food source -- mangrove leaves.

The leaves are nutritionally poor, which may help to explain the sloth's small size.

Back on the hunt for Tina, Bryson and Ana pick up a strong signal.

And then within the muck of a clearing... VOIRIN: There.

She's right there. See her?

SALCEDA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

VOIRIN: It's Tina.

Hey!

VOIRIN: She's got a baby! Look!

You can just see the little claw of the baby.

Right there on her belly.

SALCEDA: Sweet.

NARRATOR: Tina's baby is no more than a month old, the newest inhabitant of Escudo de Veraguas.

If Tina and her baby are like other three-toed sloths, they will literally be attached for the next five to ten months.

During that time, this infant will learn from its mother how to climb.

The mom serves as a jungle gym, so the baby can practice.

Babies raised in captivity, without mothers, are natural climbers, but surprisingly, they've shown a fear of heights.

The bond between baby and mother is strong -- something Ana knows all too well.

It was her job to help Velcro learn the ropes as she grew from infancy to adolescence.

I was a little worried about not being enough for Velcro.

I had read the paper about the relationship between the babies and the mothers and the babies' fear of heights.

And one day, I discovered that she was quite high in the tree.

And it was very exciting to me, because I realized that she had surmounted the fear of heights, and that was great.

I felt relieved, and it gave me hope.

NARRATOR: There's much to be learned about the sloths of Escudo.

Tina and her baby may give us more insights into mothers and their offspring.

But what role, if any, do fathers play?

Answers are turning up in a surprising place.

More than 30 years ago, this plantation was cut from the jungles of Costa Rica.

But over the last decade, it has yielded more than high-grade cacao.

It is the home of a groundbreaking study shedding light on male sloths.

Over the years, scores of sloths have moved from deforested areas to the plantation, where they find plenty of food and shelter.

Scientists are tracking 100 of them, including this two-toed adult male, named RC 20.

This 10-year-old has lived here most of his life.

His all-weather hairstyle allows him to shed the rain that falls regularly at the plantation.

RC 20 uses the harvest cables as his personal highway.

And by tracking his movements and testing his DNA, scientists have made a number of discoveries.

It turns out that RC 20 -- like all males -- stakes claim to his own territory.

His is about 100 acres, twice the average size.

Within his territory, RC 20 keeps a loose harem of three females, which is typical.

His mates include the graceful climber, number 940... and the aging beauty, number 942.

One and a half years ago, this old girl gave birth to a daughter, sloth number 245.

While RC 20's daytime patrols are a bit mellow under the hot sun, at night he becomes an obsessed Casanova.

Like all two-toed sloths, RC 20 has an active nightlife.

As this Latin lover cruises his turf, his females rest comfortably and enjoy a late-night snack.

RC 20 can't afford time for He keeps a vigilant eye out for marauding males.

And he's prepared to fight for his territory.

Claw-to-claw combat, however, is rare.

His presence alone is often enough to stake his claim.

Each night, RC 20 covers a lot of ground.

At least once a week, he patrols his entire territory and checks on his kin, steadily marching for more than a mile.

New research into the gait of sloths has revealed another surprise.

X-ray images and photographic analysis show that sloths move exactly like primates.

But instead of walking on top of branches, they move upside down.

The position of their legs and the bending of their joints exactly matches those of mammals walking right-side-up.

As darkness fades, the night shift is over, and RC 20 takes a well-deserved break.

If you didn't know any better, you might assume that this Casanova was sleeping his life away.

When Ana was raising Velcro, the role of males was little understood.

So, too, were sloth sleep habits.

The pygmies of Escudo hadn't been discovered.

For many, Velcro was the only sloth they'd ever known.

My job as a journalist made me travel a lot, and I would take Velcro with me.

In a short period of time, everybody learned about our relationship, and we gave interviews.

There was a show on TV about our relationship, and she became a local celebrity.

NARRATOR: While the increased attention was welcome in Velcro's day, Ana knows there are now troubling signs that we may be loving sloths to death.

In Medellín, Colombia, in open roads and markets, among dry goods and textiles, tourists are finding a new item for sale.

Baby sloths are being sold illegally in nefarious trafficking schemes.

The babies have been stripped from their mothers in nearby jungles.

Their teeth and claws are often cut off.

And they are sold to eager tourists who don't realize most will certainly die without their own mothers' care.

Over the years, the police have been cracking down heavily on the traffic.

[Speaking Spanish] NARRATOR: And there are signs of hope.

Outside the city lies one of the most unique sanctuaries in the Americas.

It's like a spa for sloths.

Among the rescued baby sloths, the luckiest will end up here.

WOMAN: This is the home of Tinka Plese and her rescued friends.

Tinka is a chemist by training.

But she has built a reputation beating the odds to save orphans.

[Speaking Spanish] She has rescued and rehabilitated more than 300.

More than a decade ago, Tinka created a foundation that works with the police, government officials, volunteers, and wealthy landowners.

[Speaking Spanish] She strongly believes that to successfully heal the body, you also have to heal the spirit.

And many of the charges in her care arrive traumatized.

Tinka begins rehabilitation by providing sweet essence of flower extract to calm rattled nerves.

TINKA PLESE: These beings came from the forest.

They were childs in the forests with their mothers.

They were brutally taken from the forest, offered on the roads, and ended up in the big cities, generally.

Most of them die.

They are not pets.

They are not plush toys.

NARRATOR: As the babies relax, Tinka begins to build trust.

A few soothing words and bioenergetic medicine, and this sloth has splayed its body.

PLESE: Body language is a magic language.

And that's what they show -- 'If you respect me, you can get to me.

If you are not respectful with my way of being, you just cannot get to me.'

[Murmuring] NARRATOR: Hope is a one-year-old three-toed male who arrived here as a baby.

He's been through Tinka's unique program of holistic and traditional care.

His posture is a sign of his gained strength and independence.

[Murmuring in Spanish] NARRATOR: Over the last several weeks, he's been spending more and more time in Tinka's garden to get acclimated for release.

SALCEDA: I recognized these signs of independence.

I saw them in Velcro after she started to spend more and more time outdoors.

That's how I knew that it was time to let her go.

NARRATOR: Ana has been following Hope's recovery since his arrival, and she has come to Colombia for the big day.

For his final night, Hope will stay here.

Unlike babies, growing adolescents live away from the house.

This greenhouse-like enclosure, called the 'bubble,' has been Hope's home for the past several months.

The enclosure, like the garden, is designed to mimic the wild.

PLESE: Food is important, the water is very important, but space is magic!

It provides you a refuge.

The space allows them to develop their activities.

NARRATOR: The 'bubble' is designed to give Hope the opportunity to build his independence, to define his territory and live on his own.

Now he is one year old.

He passed the whole process of rehabilitation.

For the last three to four months, he showed us a very big independence, so tomorrow we are going to release him and have the pleasure and joy that we help one being more from the forest to return back to his habitat.

I am very ready to let him go.

NARRATOR: Hope's journey to freedom starts before sunrise.

His destination is three hours to the northwest in the basin of the Cauca River.

With each click of the odometer, the landscape gradually changes, and Hope is getting closer to his new home.

In the Central Range, the Miraderos cattle ranch will be Hope's final destination.

But his journey isn't over yet.

On a dock, Tinka and Ana meet the landowner, Guillermo Londoño.

Guillermo is part of Tinka's network.

From here they cross a river by barge.

And then it's the final push.

SALCEDA: I'm so excited about releasing Hope!

This release takes me back more than a decade ago when I returned my little Velcro to the forest.

This ranch is an ideal home -- so much open space, and it is protected.

But still, I can imagine what Tinka must be feeling.

[Londoño speaking Spanish] SALCEDA: When I released Velcro, it was bittersweet.

My heart was breaking.

But I knew that I was doing the right thing.

PLESE: See how curious he is?

NARRATOR: Following a dry riverbed, Tinka is taking Hope to a spot she's scouted.

PLESE: As you can see, the deeper in the forest we go, he's more and more excited, and he wants to go.

NARRATOR: As Tinka climbs to look for the perfect tree, Hope finds it.

You see?

[Whispering] I feel -- it's a contradiction, because I feel really happy about the animal, seeing him so free.

This is the perfect tree for him.

But at the same time, it's kind of... [Clears throat] SALCEDA: These are the last home movies that I have of Velcro.

A couple of months after these images were taken, I returned her to the wild.

Raising Velcro was the second hardest thing that I've ever had to do.

The hardest was letting her go.

Even though I may never see her again, I will always keep her in my heart.