Maia and the Giant Sloth

By Amelia Michell

The moon shone, illuminating the screeching bats. The dense jungle covered up every bit of soil it could muster. Lush grass and ferns stood brave, while ants carried fallen and rotting mangoes from the ground. Monkeys swinging from tree to tree chattered excitedly, and all the while dark shadows moved silently, making Maia jump. She began to feel very tired. Setting up her tent at last, Maia yawned.

She got into her sleeping bag and fell asleep.

As the early morning sun rose, Maia peered at the old photo that had started her journey. At first glance, it was a selfie of Maia and her friends from their previous trip to the jungle, but when you looked closely you could see a smudge of brown in the top left-hand corner that appeared to be a large and very sharp claw. At least, that’s what it looked like to Maia. No one had believed her when she asked if they too could see a shiny claw. The claw of the supposedly extinct Giant Sloth of the Amazonian Jungle. Noticing the dryness in the back of her throat at last, Maia decided to search for a source of water.

After traipsing through dark, moist, dense undergrowth for hours, all she could see was trees and trees and trees – until a flicker of light caught her attention. Without stopping, Maia ran over to the water. Zipping open her back-pack, she heard a growl to her left. She turned her head cautiously. A jaguar. Without thinking, Maia started to run. The jaguar was close behind her.

Suddenly, Maia saw something huge ahead of her. An enormous tree was leaning over the water. It looked quite easy to climb so Maia climbed. Higher and higher she went until she reached the first branch. She walked along the branch as if it was a plank on a pirate ship. Suddenly, hot and repulsive breath was puffing against her cheek. Maia turned. The jaguar was there. She hadn’t realised jaguars could climb so well.

Suddenly, there was a slashing of claws and from deep in the undergrowth a sloth hove into view.  Not just any sloth. The Giant Sloth of the Amazonian Jungle! It clawed wildly at the jaguar, making the big cat tumble to the ground and run away.

Looking up Maia was stunned at her hero. A living Giant Sloth! She couldn’t believe it.

Maia had to believe it. For it was there, right before her own eyes.

She reached for her camera.