Extra Pairs of Hands Gets the Work Done

juvenile grison

During rainy season we reduced our tours so we were providing just two per day however now the high season is creeping up on us we are back to our normal four per day! Come and see our wonderful animals; even if you have visited us before, come back and bring your friends because we have made so many incredible improvements recently, and have some new additions to our permanent residents that I am sure you would love to hear about. Finally, our tours are a major supporter of the work that we do here and we couldn’t continue our mission without the help of our visitors and long-term supporters. Looking forward to seeing you here!

Visiting groups

This month we have had the pleasure of hosting 3 different groups who all came together to work with our sanctuary and be a part of the work that we do (pictured below). Amor en Acción, which is organized by Bianca Scalise, and Twocan Retreats which was created by some of our past volunteers, Stacy and Mike McCrory, came to support us a few weeks ago. Both were here to help make novel enrichment, create new platforms, and come on tours to learn more about the work that we do here.  We were so lucky to have such wonderful people to come and be a part of our cause.

 visiting volunteers 2

volunteer cutting wood

 visiting volunteers

two volunteers working

We were also lucky enough to be the Biowild host organization for the practical week of their wildlife rehabilitation course (pictured below). Professionals came from all over Latin America to be a part of this learning program and came to our sanctuary to assist us in our annual health checks, observe emergencies and offer their advice and past experiences. They were accompanied by one of the top wildlife vets of Costa Rica, Dr. Randall Arguedas, who also supported our vet in this busy week and we were honored to have him work with us.

Biowild visitors

anmial being treated

medical treatment


This month we are grateful to have the help of Dr. Cristian Ureña who is a qualified animal acupuncturist and has been able to perform acupuncture on a few of the animals we care for. Many of you may also be familiar with our resident sloth, Mocha, who suffers from nerve damage in one of her back legs. We have tried acupuncture on her in the past which relieves some pressure and hopefully makes her a little more comfortable, so we have continued with this since Cristian’s arrival.

acupuncture needles slothDr. Cristian Ureña placing the acupuncture needles in the damaged leg of Mocha

mocha the slothNo anesthesia needed! We keep Mocha occupied by offering her some of her favorite forest treats; cacao leaves and hibiscus flowers! The acupuncture has actually shown to relax the animals, and they will often fall asleep during sessions

To the sanctuary!

One more reason for you to come and visit; we were able to move our brown-hooded parrot to an enclosure on our sanctuary! He completed his quarantine period and can now be seen on our tours. He loves our volunteers and receiving new enrichment every single day.

The same mealy Amazon parrot we mentioned in last month's edition is starting his integration into our aviary with our macaws and two other green parrots – we will continue to observe their behaviors to make sure everyone is healthy, as well as eating and interacting well.


We experienced another ‘first’ this month when we received a beautiful black hawk eagle (pictured below). He was brought to us weak and underweight, and upon further testing, it was found he suffered from aspergillosis which is a fungal infection in the lungs and commonly affects birds of prey. We are giving him specific medicines to help clear it up, and since arriving with us he is also 150g closer to a healthy weight so we are confident that with the correct environment, he will be successfully rehabilitated. Now it is more vital than ever to complete the bird pre-release enclosure we have been raising money for. This will be instrumental in his rehabilitation and helping him regain muscle mass he has lost during his time here. Moving him to a large, flight enclosure will be the last stage before he can be released back into the wild, and it is critical in ensuring his ability to survive. Please consider donating, even a small amount will get us closer to our goal and we couldn’t get there without the help of all of our supporters. Click the button below to donate to this cause!

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eagle hawkThe eagle hawk

Last month we were called about a young sea bird that was found alone on the beach. This brown booby had all of her white feathers, and we are still waiting for those to be replaced by the full brown feathers you see in the adults before she can be released. We think that she was blown from her nest during a particularly strong storm the previous evening. She is otherwise healthy, eating and growing well and hopefully will be able to be released in the future.

brown boobyThe brown booby- excuse her fuzzy beak, she was caught on camera during a grooming session!

As you are all probably aware, it is illegal in Costa Rica to keep wild animals as pets and it is one of the main reasons that animals cannot be released back into the wild. We provide a home to many animals that have fallen victim to the illegal pet trade, and we receive even more on a monthly basis, hearing their stories and helping every animal as best as we can. This month, a gentleman brought to us a scarlet macaw (pictured below) and told us a story of how he had kept this macaw, as well as one other, as a breeding pair for 10 years until one of them became sick and died. Now, this single macaw was of no use to him and so he made the decision to surrender it to our rescue center. As macaws mate for life, they often become depressed when losing their partner and so we were concerned that this particular one would do the same, but it is eating well and seems healthy therefore we hope it will continue to thrive.

scarlet macawThe scarlet macaw

A new baby was also brought to our clinic last week, one that we do not see often here at Alturas. A juvenile grison (pictured in the cover photo and below) was the latest addition to our nursery and has since been moved to one of our rehabilitation enclosures where he is eating a solid diet and investigating his new environment. We were told that his mother was killed and he was found nearby, too young to be able to survive by himself so he was brought to Alturas where we began to care for him. Closely related to honey badgers, these species is known for their aggressive nature however this juvenile is amicable, leading us to believe that perhaps he was habituated to people before he was brought to us.

juvenile grison yawningThe juvenile grison caught mid-yawn!

Movin' on up!

yellow throated toucanThe yellow-throated toucan in rehabilitation

A toucan we received due to a suspected car accident has been moved to one of our rehabilitation enclosures for the next stage of his process! We are excited to see him back in to his natural habitat soon! 

Our vet was able to release a red-lored parrot back to the wild a few weeks ago. It was a beautiful release with an incredible sunset, and the parrot flew perfectly into the nearby canopies. It couldn’t have been more perfect!!


Here at the sanctuary, there are certain items that we use on a daily basis for the care and development of our animals. These include Kong toys by KONG, which provide endless enrichment to every species of animal we have here, and Meyenberg goats milk, which is critical in the raising and development of so many of our baby and juvenile animals. Both of these companies were generous enough to donate some of these items to our sanctuary, which we are eternally grateful for. With this support, as well as the support from all of our visitors, followers, and volunteers, we are able to continue the important work that we do. 

Finally, while we’re talking about donations, “Giving Tuesday” is coming up at the start of December. Giving Tuesday is a worldwide campaign to encourage people to support their local communities and charities.  As an NGO, Alturas relies on generous donations from our supporters to be able to provide quality care for all of our animals, operate a fully functioning clinic, and release as many animals as possible back into the wild. Every little bit helps us towards our goals, whether you want to donate money towards one of our projects, choose a few items from our Amazon wishlist, or come and volunteer – we are grateful for your ongoing support and generosity. Although December 3rd is the official date, we appreciate donations and support every single day of the year. Click on the tab below to learn more about ways to support us through our website.

howler monkey playing with kong toy

kong toys 

A generous donation! A huge thanks go to the company KONG for donating these amazing toys we give to our animals as enrichment.

Mayenberg goats milkA big thank you also goes to Mayenberg for donating these cans of goat milk to us. 

November 2019 News