Aiuká – International Partners Saving Lives

Our international oil spill responses have been challenging over the years, but have brought us both incredible opportunities to learn about other species and to develop rewarding relationships with new colleagues.

After meeting Brazil’s Dr. Valeria Ruoppolo over 12 years ago, she quickly became an important member of International Fund for Animal Welfare’s oiled wildlife team  (co-managed by International Bird Rescue) and Dr. Rodolfo Silva soon joined the fold. They both have played key roles alongside our staff in managing efforts in South Africa, Spain, Norway, Estonia, Argentina, Chile and the Galapagos Islands.

Last year Drs. Ruoppolo and Silva realized their dream of founding a Brazil-based organization to respond to oiled wildlife events, help companies with wildlife related issues, and do ongoing research in the field of wildlife rehabilitation and veterinary medicine.

The company, called Aiuká, partners with International Bird Rescue for tier three responses, in the event that a large oil spill overwhelms their in-country resources. In this situation, International Bird Rescue would be called in to help manage the event however needed.

Brazil has a wide variety of unique and amazing plants and animals. This adult, male, Brown-Throated Sloth (Bradypus variegatus) was discovered covered in oil and clinging to a truck after a collision that may have forced him from his tree. The animal was captured and rehabilitated by Aiuká in what is, as far as we know, the world’s first recorded case of a Sloth affected by an oil spill.

The Sloth was washed clean at the veterinary school CETAS Unimonte, and was transferred to Horto Florestal near São Vicente to recover for two days before being released in Itanhaém where it was discovered.

Aiuká’s expert handling of this animal shows how the knowledge and experience gained in responding to oil spills as a part of a collaborative response team can touch lives all around the world.

Jay Holcomb
Director Emeritus
International Bird Rescue


4 thoughts on “Aiuká – International Partners Saving Lives”

  1. What a wonderful story. It’s great to hear a happy ending to an oil spill case, I wish it was that way all the time.

  2. It’s the first time I’ve heard of a sloth impacted by an oil spill BUT sadly, probably not the only one.
    I do believe that sloths have been documented swimming, probably
    in order to access potential mates in seasonally flooded tropical rain forest areas.
    Generally, they move so little that their fur has MOSS growing on it…
    DEFINITELY better than being coated in OIL.. . Cheers for the wonderful Brazilian caregivers: great job!

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