iNat User agonzalo Photographs the Birth of a Sloth in Panama - Observation of the Week, 2/16/20

iNat user @agonzalo photographed a Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth giving birth in Panama, and it’s our Observation of the Week!

“The story of the picture of the sloth giving birth is based on applying a basic equation,” explains Aitor Gonzalo. “perseverance plus extreme LUCK!

I didn't see the full delivery. I heard a loud screech that caught my attention and managed to see the sloth at a distance of about 150 meters. Through the camera I could see that the mother was manipulating the newborn but at the moment everything was very confusing for me. In the photos you can understand better what was happening.

While his primary interest is birds, Aitor says “I never miss the chance to photograph sloths, monkeys, and other animals, alone or in company with their babies. Obviously, a birth in nature is to win the lottery.”

Famously slow-moving, three-toed sloths eat leaves and digest them at a sarlacc-like rate, sometimes taking 2 weeks to digest a meal! Sleeping in trees for about 16 hours a day, they make their way to the forest floor only once every 7-8 days in order to defecate, and as you can see they even give birth up in the treetops. Newborn sloths, like the one in Aitor’s photos, gestated for about seven months. It will spend the next five months or so clinging to its mother before it starts to climb on its own in earnest.

Aitor has always been interested in nature, but he credits his two daughters, Milena and Costanza, for his current “real real true passion for nature (I mean me as an already old guy and eager to go out and spend most day taking photographs).” One daughter has a PhD (earned in France) and studies soil microbes, while the other is studying Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning at UC-Davis in California. “Both of my daughters…

are passionate about nature, the environment, and its conservation and have discussed it with so much enthusiasm that it is extremely difficult not to get engaged. Moreover, both have been vegetarians for many years, and to challenge them and myself, I became vegan.

A regular iNat and eBird user, Aitor (above, with @ruthpierson and @claryliz) finds iNaturalist to be “an essential tool. It has everything. It helps you identify animals, it keeps records of everything, you can get statistics, it is interactive and user friendly. Besides, it is fun and challenging.”

- by Tony Iwane. Some quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and flow.

- Panama is part of the iNaturalist network!

- Sloths do swim - here is a pygmy three-toed sloth making its way across the water to look for a mate.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, February 17, 2020 05:16


This is just - wow. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by waldmaedchen over 1 year ago (Flag)

Amazing, congratulations! Kudos to your entire family. I can't imagine how proud you are of your daughters.

Posted by pam-piombino over 1 year ago (Flag)

WOW! That must be the observation of the year!! Congratulations!

Posted by susanne-kasimir over 1 year ago (Flag)

What a fantastic event to witness!

Posted by driftlessroots over 1 year ago (Flag)

I am speechless. This is amazing! Congratulation for being able to observe that and even take such pictures!

Posted by ajott over 1 year ago (Flag)

Fantastic! Great shots of the event. We all live for these moments.

Posted by magichin over 1 year ago (Flag)

I feel so privileged to have seen this. Much gratitude to the photographer for sharing these wonderful photos.

Posted by dhend9 over 1 year ago (Flag)

Wow, that is amazing. Must have been a privilege to see.

Posted by carlavanw over 1 year ago (Flag)

Such incredible luck -- and ability to act quickly and coolly in the moment! Good for you. Thank you for reminding us that nature is doing incredible things all the time.

Posted by beth_tracks over 1 year ago (Flag)

These photos brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, Aitor, for posting them!

Posted by carolblaney over 1 year ago (Flag)

What a special moment to capture in a stunning photo! One can see the sloth mama’s tenderness with her newborn. Thank you so much for sharing.

Posted by metsa over 1 year ago (Flag)

Totally amazing and very moving too.

Posted by susanhewitt over 1 year ago (Flag)

Fantastic photo and story!

Posted by naturephotosuze over 1 year ago (Flag)

Bravo and thank you for sharing.

Posted by microm over 1 year ago (Flag)

Amazing, thank you!

Posted by dustaway over 1 year ago (Flag)

Very beautiful shots! Realy touching! Thank you for sharing.

Posted by lemurtaquin over 1 year ago (Flag)

just fantastic!!!

Posted by umby71 over 1 year ago (Flag)

Beautiful observation and photography! What great luck in being at the right place at the right time.

Posted by pattycakes over 1 year ago (Flag)

Oh man! One of the great benefits of using iNat is getting in on observations like this. Fabulous.

Posted by hydrocycler over 1 year ago (Flag)

Almost everyday I enjoy seeing Aitor's great pictures. Thank you Aitor for being one of the best Panama iNaturalist. I just hope some of our close friends get inspired by you and please, do not stop sharing your amazing nature moments. You are the best!

Posted by rosabelmiro over 1 year ago (Flag)

Awesome. Though it does look a little like the mother is choking the newborn, even though that’s untrue, lol.

Posted by spinosaurusrocks over 1 year ago (Flag)

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