Just a day after we welcomed sloth researcher Becky Cliffe to the Earth Touch blog team, we've got another piece of sloth news for you. With primatologist and founder of The Sloth Institute Costa Rica Sam Trull by their side, veterinarians in the small town of Herradura have performed a C-section delivery on a sloth! The procedure is thought to be the first of its kind, and as amazing as this story is ... we must warn you, it's a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

The mother sloth was brought to Trull's attention after a local witnessed the animal falling from a tree branch. "After trying to help her get back up and climb to safety, he realised something more was wrong and called us [at the Kids Saving The Rainforest Rescue Center] for help," she explains.

Having treated similar symptoms in primates, Trull recognised the sloth was suffering from seizures. "At the time this was the first sloth seizure I had ever seen, and true to sloth nature, it was a 'slow' seizure. It was more like a neurotic tic than a typical seizure seen in human and non-human primates. Upon examination I determined that she had not fractured her skull (yay!) and that she was pregnant (not so yay)." 

After three days of treatment with steroids, the sloth was not looking much better – and worse yet, she began to show signs of labour. With the clock ticking, Trull made the decision to take the animal to see Yesse Alpizar, another vet working in the nearby town of Herradura. CT and X-ray scans revealed a hidden emergency: the baby was in a breech (feet first) position, and was trapped by the mother's full bladder and bowel, unable to rotate.

Alpizar and her team were able to drain the sloth's swollen bladder, allowing them to extract the tiny infant in just 30 minutes ... but despite their best efforts, something was wrong. "The baby seemed to be losing body heat, so [it] was placed onto Trull's chest, a technique sometimes called "kangaroo care," writes Dr Jason Goldman in a detailed account of the birth.

Despite the team's best efforts, in the end, the newborn's low temperature was not the only thing working against it. Sadly, both mom and her baby had suffered complications from the fall off the tree branch and died the following week. 

"It was devastating but not entirely surprising," Trull told BBC Earth. "Ultimately it's not the quantity of life that counts but the quality. I'm glad he had a week, and that he had some snuggles with his mom. I was at least able to unite mother and baby before they died, so it might not have been a very long life but at least it was a life."

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