By Janet Tappin Coelho
An adorable baby sloth survived a deadly squeeze after becoming trapped between two battling adults that were locked so tightly together the tiny creature was being suffocated to death.
The two-month old pup got accidentally caught up in the middle of the sloths after the pair started fighting over a female at Teresina Botanical Gardens in north east Brazil last Friday (28 June).
Park attendants had to prise the warring duo apart and were shocked to find the pup trapped between the wrestling males.
Park director, Jacqueline Lustosa, explained: “The males were inside the forest fighting we believe over a female or perhaps over territory when somehow the baby was grabbed and got caught up in the tussle.
“The pup had become separated from the mother as the struggle began and ended up being taken by one of the males.
“The animals were glued together, and we didn’t realise there was a baby stuck in between them until we pulled them apart. If we hadn’t intervened the pup would have suffocated and died,” said the environmentalist.
Fortunately, the unusual situation had a positive ending and the cute little creature was found in time. And that was largely down to male sloths’ screaming.
The animals squeal when they fight and the sound alerted park attendants to the altercation which was slowly and languidly taking place, as is the wont for the lazy creatures.
Officials found the two adversaries, also known as ‘three toes’ wrapped around each other with limbs so tightly interlocked it was hard to distinguish which body part belonged to which animal.
The duelling creatures looked like a mangled ball of fur when they were picked up. Their limbs were stuck at angles into each other and one of the arms was used to carry them like a bag to a safe place to be unravelled from their tangled mess.
The battle appeared to be so intense the claws of one of the sloths was almost penetrating the eye of the other, wardens said.
“Normally when the males fight the only way they can be separated is with the death of one or the other,” explained Lustosa.
“If we had delayed for much longer, they could have been badly injured and living inside the forest this could have resulted in an infection or the animal bleeding to death.”
It took four attendants to separate the feuding pair with the arms, legs and heads being held apart as Lustosa unpicked their intertwined bodies.
It was only when she finally freed the foes that the park director was shocked to find the baby trapped in the middle.
The opponents were placed in different locations in the forest which is set in a zoological park with sufficient distance between them so as not to encounter one another again.
The pup which is dependent for up to a year, was deposited back in the same place where the fight started for the mother to find her.