You would think that it would make a birth pretty special, with the mother hanging upside-down in a tree. For a sloth, though, there’s not much special about it. The sloth does nearly everything in a tree, including give birth.
Because the mother’s rear end often points upward, the young can fairly easily climb onto the mother’s belly; sometimes the mother lends a helping hand. After the birth, the mother licks the young dry and nurses it. Mother and young hold tight to each other for as long as six to nine months.

Sloths are fully adapted to life in the trees. These animals cannot truly walk; on the ground, they crawl from one tree to the next. Even the sloth’s fur is adapted to a tree-bound life: the way the hairs on the belly grow allows rain to slide right off. The only reason sloths need to leave the trees is to urinate and defecate, which they do just once a week. And then they hurry back up into the trees.

In Artis, the Amsterdam zoo, a sloth weighing just over 500 grams was born in mid-november to a first-time mother. Both are on view in the small mammals house.