A sloth has been filmed giving birth in a tree, with her infant plunging from the branch moments after.
The animal, which is normally known as being a slow moving species, was spotted by a Costa Rican tour group, moving quickly to save the baby sloth’s life.
The Bradybus variegatus, commonly known as a brown-throated sloth, is seen quickly curling her arm around the falling new-born, who was suspended in the air for several seconds – only the umbilical cord preventing it from plummeting to the ground.
Steven Vela, a tour guide at Canoa Adventura in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, spotted the sloths and said in his eight years in the job he’d never seen anything like it.
To witness a sloth birth is very rare according to Dr Rebecca Cliffe, the founder of the Sloth Conservation Foundation in Costa Rica.
“To see a three-fingered sloth give birth is something that very few people have been lucky enough to witness,” she said.
“Sloths are secretive animals that live high in the rainforest canopy and specialize in camouflage. To just see one in the wild is lucky, but to observe one giving birth out in the open is very special.”
Dr Cliffe said that umbilical cords often have a role to play in protecting baby sloths from injury.
“From the limited number of three-fingered sloth birth observations that we know about, this has happened in a high proportion of cases,” she said.
“In almost every case the mother sloth has descended to quite a low height in the canopy to give birth. This is likely a precautionary measure to prevent injury to the baby in case it does fall to the ground.”
Both mum and baby sloths are doing well and have remained in the same area, Mr Vella confirmed.
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