February 2019 News

female collared peccary Camote

Welcome to this month’s newsletter! For the past couple of weeks, our clinic has been extremely busy with emergencies. Thankfully, we had the added help from our veterinary interns who got the chance to assist with some interesting surgeries and see rare animals.


We have received a new member to our sanctuary; a female collared peccary. Camote, as we named her, was transferred from another sanctuary after she was deemed to be un-releasable. As we already have Pechan, a 10-month-old peccary, we thought it would be ideal for him to have a companion. Peccaries are social animals and relish in the companionship of one another. Camote and Pechan were slowly introduced to each other over two weeks (pictured above). On the final day of the introduction, the fence between them was removed and the two of them were able to physically interact with one another. Pechan and Camote seem to be getting along well, as we are often finding the two wallowing in their mud pit or resting with each other!

Another juvenile owl has been brought to our sanctuary after people thought it was abandoned or injured. As we have mentioned before, it is a normal stage in life, for juvenile owls to leave their nests and start wondering on the ground. Now that it was brought to us, we will never be able to relocate its nest and reunite the juvenile with it parents. Before interfering, please contact the closest sanctuary, police or MINAE (Ministry of the Environment and Energy) to describe the state of the animal.

juvenile owlThe juvenile owl being 'burrito-d' in order to feed

A green iguana was hit by a car close to Dominicalito sustaining a fracture in her cheek. She is doing well now and should soon be released. It is very common to spot Iguanas on the side of the road or even in the middle of the road because they are basking in the sun. Iguanas are cold-blooded which means that they need to bask in the sun in order to warm themselves up and increase their metabolism. Unfortunately, a dark tarmacked road looks like the perfect sunbathing spot for these reptiles, and the number of dead iguanas we find on the side of the road is alarming! Please respect speed limits and drive with caution in order to avoid hitting any animal.

green iguanaThe green iguana being inspected upon arrival by our vet team

A past volunteer brought in a common opossum after its mother was attacked and killed by a dog. The opossum is approximately 4 months old and should soon be released once she reaches a suitable weight for survival by herself.

We received a roadside hawk that had been shot in its wing by a hunter. Fortunately, our vet team was able to remove the pellet and the bird is stable. Its wing will remain bandaged for the next four weeks, after which, with the help of physiotherapy, the raptor will be released.

The road side hawkThe road side hawk

Thank You!

We would like to thank Masterlock for their generous donation of 24 padlocks to our sanctuary! Due to Costa Rica’s high humidity, frequent rainfall and hot temperatures, we go through far too many padlocks than we would like. Being an NGO, we appreciate such valuable donations so much and are extremely grateful to receive help. If you are interested in donating items, visit our Amazon wish list, shop using Amazon Smile or donate here.


On to the next step...

This month a few animals have been moved on to the next stage of their rehabilitation, which is always an exciting part of the process! You may remember 2 baby raccoons we received a few months ago.  They are now both old enough to eat only solid food which means they could be moved to our pre-release enclosures where they will have limited contact with humans and develop those natural instincts so they can survive in the wild! We are feeding them a range of foods that they would find in the wild and giving them lots of enrichment to encourage foraging behaviors.

3 more of our babies have been moved from our nursery into the rehabilitation center!  Petal, the young porcupine, is still receiving milk but we are slowly introducing solid foods scattered around her new enclosure.  Benito, a juvenile kinkajou, has grown so much and is enjoying his new enclosure.  And finally, our baby squirrel who the volunteers have named "Scratch" has also been moved to a large rehab enclosure where he is making the most of all his new space, branches and enrichment!!

Updating existing enclosures!

We have also made some new developments to our existing enclosures! Here at Alturas, we are always trying to improve and have therefore made some changes to our pre-release enclosures.

As many of you are aware, we have 4 pre-release enclosures which we use for many animals' final step into the wild.  The past few weeks one of our members of staff has been working hard to create a tunnel system so all 4 enclosures can be connected!! Although this may not seem very exciting, this means that if we have fewer animals, we can open up the doors so some animals can have twice as much space!! We think this is an excellent addition to our release process and anything we can do to improve our animal lives is always worth it!


This month we have been lucky enough to release 3 birds! A black and white striped owl was brought to us from the Boruca community where it had flown into someone's home and injured its wing.  X-rays showed that there were no broken bones so we just needed to wait for it to build its strength before we could take it back to Boruca and return it to the wild!  The whole community came out to see him fly again and it was a wonderful experience to be a part of.

The screech owl which we mentioned in last month’s newsletter has also been released after recovering successfully from its head trauma.

Our clinic was caring for a great blue heron for approximately one week after the bird flew into a Tilapia farm. The farmer caught the bird in a bag to avoid it eating the fish. We are unaware of how long the heron was kept in the bag, but upon arrival to our rehab center, the bird was extremely weak. It was kept in our pond until it recovered, and was treated with a wide spectrum antibiotic as our Dr. Sandy suspected that the bird might be suffering from a general infection. It responded well to the antibiotics and was released a few days after.

The great blue heronThe great blue heron