A two-toed mother sloth and her 5-month-old baby found themselves terribly lost.
Together, they wandered the town of San Isidro de El General in Costa Rica, but there was something especially wrong with the mother – she was spotted with a deep, open wound on one of her feet that dangerously exposed fat and muscle.
Thankfully, the two animals were eventually rescued by officers from the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAE), who then brought them to the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary for rehabilitation.
“We don’t know what exactly happened with her foot,” Larissa Calis, a biologist with the sanctuary, told The Dodo. “We just know she was in the middle of a town and this foot was hanging, in pain.”
Despite the discomfort the mother must have felt, her number one priority was her baby, whom she was very protective of and held onto constantly. Calis noted that, while the mother was protective, she wasn’t aggressive – perhaps knowing that the people who saved her had no intention of hurting her child.
“I cleaned out the wound, debrided the edges and stitched it back into place,” Dr. Laura Berenguer, a veterinarian who operated on the mother sloth, wrote on Facebook. “To do so she underwent general anesthesia (adult sloths can be very dangerous, more so mothers protecting their young).”
The mother sloth held on to her child, even when unconscious, just as her son was content to stay in his mother’s arms throughout the operation, where he felt the most safe.
“She stays all time in the posture you can see in one picture of them, trying to cover him,” Calis said.
The young sloth even continued to suckle from his mother, occasionally taking a break from feeding to “check” on the operation.
“He seemed very calm to us, even going to take a look at what the vet was doing and trying to lick us,” Calis said. “He was very curious.”
After the operation, the mother sloth was given medication to prevent infections. She recovered with her baby at the sanctuary for 10 days before they were both was transported back to the jungle by MINAE officers.
During their stay at the sanctuary, the mother sloth’s baby was taken from her just once for veterinarians to measure him and make certain that he was healthy – and even then, food had to be used to distract the mother.
Luckily, these two safely came out of a situation that could have ended badly without swift medical intervention.
“Well done beautiful little family!” Alturas wrote on Facebook.