December 2018 News

young porcupine

Welcome to this month’s newsletter; the baby edition! These past couple of weeks we have received an astonishingly large number of orphaned animals, keeping our staff and volunteers busy with round the clock feedings! In addition to this, we have released a large number of animals back into wild and also have just celebrated the sanctuary’s four year anniversary! Since opening our doors to wildlife in December 2014, we have received over 1,000 animals that we have cared for. None of our work would be possible without the help from all the volunteers that have been a part of the process since day one, the hard work and dedication from all staff members along the years, the guests that have visited on our tours and all of the donations we have received, thank you!


We were called to rescue a young female raccoon that was abandoned and made her way to a restaurant close by. The female was just a couple of weeks old and thankfully a similar age to the male raccoon we had previously rescued (mentioned in last month’s newsletter) so we managed to introduce the two together. These two have bonded well and have not gained interest in humans.

young raccoonsThe two juvenile raccoons investigating their new environment

This month we received a staggering amount of sloths, young and old. The three newest members are Pelota, Aurora and Raya, all two-toed sloths, rescued from different areas close by.

Benito, a juvenile male kinkajou was rescued after he was thought to be abandoned. We are bottle feeding him every couple of hours and ensuring that he receives little human contact. We are enforcing a strict protocol with regards to handling and feeding in order to prevent him from imprinting on humans.

Pelota was rescued from a hotel in Ojochal after guests found her close to the ground. Guests began picking her up and taking selfies with her, clearly stressing the juvenile and scaring her mother away. The sanctuary heard about this incident and rushed to rescue her. Now, since her mother was forced to abandon her, we must raise her ourselves with the hope that she will survive and be able to be released once she is old enough. Wild animals are not pets and we have no right to harass them, and submit them to unnecessary handling for our enjoyment and social media feeds.

Pelota the slothPelota getting some Vitamin D

Raya, the youngest of the three rescued sloths became abandoned after her mother was attacked and killed by a domestic dog. She was hypothermic and dehydrated upon arrival and is receiving treatment for these health problems. Domestic dogs have been implicated in the extinction of 11 species of animals (Doherty et al., 2018). If you know that your dog is aggressive to wildlife, please be a responsible owner and keep them on a leash. Aurora, the eldest of the three orphaned sloths also arrived after her mother was killed by domestic dogs. She is approximately 4 months old, and has a healthy appetite for fresh leaves.

Aurora the slothAurora climbing around

We were called about a grey-crowned squirrel monkey after hotel guests noticed it not being able to use its leg properly. Upon initial inspection by our vet team, it was evident that the monkey had a number of injuries, probably caused by fights with con-specifics including lesions on the tail, and bite marks on its ankle, legs, left side of its body, stomach and armpit. The open wounds were sutured and the animal was kept under intensive care. The squirrel monkey has been moved to one of our pre-release enclosures in order to be able to climb. At the moment it is crucial that she exercises as a form of physical therapy.

A good Samaritan brought in a juvenile Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine (pictured in the cover photo) after it was allegedly separated from its mother. The porcupine, named Petal arrived with its umbilical cord still attached. Since it is so young we have to feed it every couple of hours, as its mother naturally would. Thankfully she is healthy despite being separated from her mother at such a young age. Before assuming that any young animal has been abandoned, please call the closest wildlife sanctuary, police or MINAE (The Ministry for the Environment and Energy) as very often, the mother would leave its young in order to search for food.

The next stage...

Uma, the little anteater which we have been raising has finally been moved to one of our pre-release enclosures, in order to prepare her for her release. Uma has been hand raised since she was a couple of days old after finding her on the side of the road. She has grown tremendously since she first got here and we are hoping to release her shortly. In order to prepare her for a life back in the wild, our volunteers regularly search for termites nest to feed Uma. Scratching, digging and tearing apart such nests is a crucial skill Uma needs to learn and accustom herself with before she can be released, as this will be one of the main components to her diet in the wild.

We have started a soft-release process with the woolly opossum mentioned in last month’s newsletter. Much like a regular release, a soft-release allows the animal to get accustomed to its new surroundings before being forced out into the wild. We often conduct soft releases with orphaned animals which we have raised, in order to prepare them better for life in the wild. By supplementing their diet back in the wild and providing them shelter, we create a transitional period while they get accustomed to finding their own food and shelter. We will keep the woolly opossum in her new enclosure for a couple of days and will then eventually open the door, allowing her to move out into the forest whilst still providing food for her. Bit by bit, she will reduce the amount of time she returns to her enclosure as she is learning to find more food. Slowly, we will reduce the amount of food we present, and eventually will stop altogether. This is when the soft-release will be finalized, and the woolly will be completely wild and not dependent on us. We have also successfully carried out a soft release with the pygmy owl which we were raising at the sanctuary.


Brad, the male white-faced monkey which has been in rehabilitation for over two months has finally been released! The male was badly electrocuted causing him to fall and break his jaw. After a number of grueling and long operations, the plate which was inserted in his jaw was removed and Dr. David Aikens, a dentist who usually works on people but often donates his time for particular cases at the sanctuary, came in to file down the monkey’s teeth in order to correct the bite.

Brad the male white faced monkey 1 Brad the male white faced monkey 2

Brad during his release

We were caring for a male 3 toed sloth for a very short time after it was found on the ground by a river. We can assume that it was trying to cross the river but got tired due to the currents. Upon arrival it was extremely weak and wet. After a few days it gained its strength back and was immediately released.

A common opossum was attacked by a dog in Dominical, causing its three young joeys to fall out of its pouch. We were called at night as the opossum seemed to be badly affected, but after initial inspection the wounds only seemed superficial. We placed the joeys pack in the pouch and monitored the mother for a few days before releasing her. Opossums are marsupials, and are pregnant for a very short time. Once they give birth, the joeys must climb into their mothers pouch in order to continue their development. If you ever find a dead opossum on the road, check its pouch to ensure that there are no joeys.

Pacho and Penelope, the two young raccoons we have been caring for have finally been released. We scouted a location that was far away from human contact and road disturbance.

Mischa has finally been released! We rescued Mischa back in March after her mother was killed by a dog attack. She was only a couple of weeks old upon arrival but despite the trauma she endured, she developed properly. She has been living in one of our pre-release enclosures for the past few months in order to prepare her for life back in the wild.

Mischa the northern TamanduaMischa, the northern Tamandua, climbing back into freedom after being raised at the sanctuary

The coati which we mentioned in last month’s newsletter was also released! The young female was brought in to the sanctuary with skin conditions. After approximately one month of rehabilitation, the issues with her skin subsided and she gained the correct amount of weight, allowing us to release her back into the wild!

A large, male, two toed sloth was brought in from MINAE after discovering it on the side of the road. It was suffering from a respiratory infection, later our vet team deciphered that it was pneumonia. After treating it with antibiotics and keeping the sloth under intensive care, his health issues improved and we released him. Pneumonia is a common respiratory disease contracted by sloths.

One of our staff members rescued a young howler monkey who might have gotten hit by a vehicle close to playa Hermosa. The impact broke four of her incisors, grazed her gums and cut her chin. Initially upon arrival our vet team sutured her jaw closed and kept her under intensive care. Her wounds and gums had to be cleaned daily in order to prevent infection. The final step before she was ready to be released was to remove part of her dental bone that was protruding. Dr. David Aikens came in again to perform this procedure. She was released a couple of days ago after we managed to locate her original troop. The reunion was heartwarming, as her and her troop rushed towards each other, vocalizing and immediately began grooming each other. This reunion reminded us about all the effort it requires to rescue, rehabilitate and release a wild animal, and what an amazing result it brings when everyone comes together to care for wildlife.

Howler monkey being cared for by vet techThe Howler monkey upon arrival being checked by our vet team