Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

Costa Rica


monkeysMission Statement

The Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary is a facility that receives animals that the government of Costa Rica confiscates from any type of illegal situation. That is usually the illegal pet trade or illegal domestication by people. We also receive abandoned or orphaned baby and adult animals that have been injured but survive. Our mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and release them back to their natural habitat and to provide sanctuary for those animals that cannot be returned to their natural habitat because of disability, injury or severe over-domestication. We also work to educate and enlighten the people of the world about the amazing animals of Costa Rica!

Director Of Operations

Mike Graeber is a true animal lover with over 40 years of experience working with animals. He moved to Costa Rica's Southern Zone in 2000 and founded the D.A.W.G. (Domestic Animal Welfare Group). In 2008 he turned his attention to Wildlife Rehab & Release and quickly became the "go to guy" whenever an injured animal was found. Since 2011, he operated the Osa Animal Sanctuary and now he is taking his expertise over to us. We couldn't be happier to have the animals at our sanctuary in his capable hands.

A Message From The Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary Director

Greetings fellow animal lovers,

mike graeber alturas wildlifeMy name is Mike Graeber, the Director of Operations at the new Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary. I would like to share with you my background and where we are going in the future. Wildlife rehab began for me at the age of ten. That is when I picked up my first baby bird from the ground – it was a Bluejay. I cared for it every moment of the day for about three weeks. One day, it flew away – happy and healthy! Since then, I have rehabbed and raised many a bird and animal. I have volunteered in every type of wildlife rehab facility imaginable for more than 40 years and now wildlife rescue and rehab is a part of me. I could never imagine doing anything else in life!

In October of 2000, I moved to the Southern Zone of Costa Rica. When I arrived, the first thing that I noticed was the huge number of homeless dogs here. I immediately began a spay/neuter program to address the problem. In the first 4 years while working with a local vet, I spayed/neutered more than 350 dogs and cats. Then volunteers started to appear. Over the next several years, we adopted the name, “D.A.W.G.” (Domestic Animal Welfare Group) and performed thousands more spays/neuters and thousands of adoptions to caring owners. D.A.W.G. marches on as the most effective animal aid group in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica. In 2008, I stepped aside and handed the control of D.A.W.G. over to Shanell Parker and the wonderful volunteer staff and devoted my time to my first love, Wildlife Rehab & Release.

For the next several years, I worked with the exotic jungle creatures of Costa Rica.  Word spread quickly that I was the guy to take abandoned baby animals to, or if a creature had just been hit by a car. In 2011 I received the call that I had been waiting for my whole life – the opportunity to develop and manage a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center.The land and enough start-up money to start the wildlife sanctuary was donated to me by a local community, and I started to do the job of creating the Osa Mountain Animal Sanctuary, an animal refuge / sanctuary / rehabilitation center. It was located in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, smack dab in the middle of the most bio-diverse area on the planet! It is also a place where the native animals are under constant assault from hunters, poachers, loggers and the illegal pet trade. Another problem is domestication by the local people.

Now the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary exists and we have rescued, healed and returned many animals and birds to the jungle. We are also providing permanent sanctuary for 41 animals and birds that have been over-domesticated or permanently disabled and need a place to live. Who knows what would have happened to these animals if we were not here and their numbers are growing daily!

The government of Costa Rica is a world leader in many areas of conservation. Among the laws of Costa Rica is the law that forbids possession of ANY wild creature and recent tougher legislation allows for large fines and jail time for anyone who breaks them. The people of Costa Rica have always domesticated the creatures (parrots and monkeys mostly) of the forest, but the new laws are causing these dependent animals and birds to be abandoned quickly. To put these over-domesticated animals back into the jungle is an immediate death sentence. Now they are brought to us!

At the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary our mission is to accommodate the flood of animals in need of help and to meet this need 100%.

  • We need to expand our facility and create as many enclosures as necessary to house the steady flow of animals that would otherwise have no place to live or recover.
  • We will to continue to provide a rehabilitation area for the many injured animals that are brought here due to impacts with cars and power line injuries.
  • We need to build more release enclosures.
  • We will return as many animals as possible to the jungle – this is our ultimate goal and nothing makes us happier.
  • We strive to become the most comprehensive wildlife sanctuary in all of Central America.

I am happy to say that we have a totally dedicated team here at the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary, but we need your help! We are growing and are busting at the seams. We ask you to get involved in our special cause. You can make a difference by donating time, money or simply spreading the word. Learn how you can help by visiting our Donations page. My team and I pledge to you our around the clock hard work in taking care of all of the animals in need of assistance that arrive at our gates.

Mike Graeber