Hello, April showers!

baby toucan

We are thinking of all of our supporters, past and future volunteers, and all of our generous donors during these troubling times. We have seen a huge amount of support over the past few months, and we cannot thank you all enough for coming together to help us survive this pandemic.

But this is not the end, and we predict these hard times may continue for a while longer, in which case we still need all of your help and support to get through. Please continue donating, sharing our posts, and plan some trips for next year to come and visit us when it is safe to do so! We can only continue this important work with your help!

While a few other sanctuaries in Costa Rica have decided to close their doors to animals, however, we have not been able to do the same – we are here to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife and we will continue to do so until we no longer can. For this reason, we have still got several rescues and releases to share with you that I am sure will brighten your day!

World Veterinary Day!

This month we celebrated World Veterinary Day, although we don’t need just one day to give thanks to our amazing veterinary team. Dr. Sandy Quiros is an incredible woman who we learn from each every day. Rebeca Soto is utterly fearless and we could not care for all of these animals without her. These two outstanding women run our clinic and make sure every single animal who comes through our doors receives the best care. Also, a special mention for Dr. Kathy Wander who always volunteers her time to help us with surgeries, review our x-rays, and answer any questions we may have about the animals in our care. Also, we must say thanks to all of the other veterinarians that we consult with, that support us, and those that help us treat animals when we cannot do it alone. Thank you!!

Rebeca and Dr. SandyRebeca and Dr. Sandy, collecting blood work from an Ocelot

Rescues

A beautiful scarlet macaw (Ara macao) was rescued when it was found on the ground. Initially, we were told it was unable to fly and that it had an injury to its shoulder however when our vet team examined him they found no injury but instead, a lung infection. After receiving treatment for its infection, he was still unable to fly so we decided it was necessary to transfer him to another institution with better facilities for long term bird rehab. We are still raising money for a pre-release enclosure specifically designed for the rehabilitation of birds needing flight therapy, so we can continue to care for cases such as these ourselves. If you want to help us get more birds back to the wild, please check out our campaign by clicking here.

An incredibly tiny, baby two-toed sloth (Choloepus hoffmanii) was found by some people while they were on a hike, it still had its umbilical cord attached and they couldn’t see the mother anywhere in the nearby trees. Before calling their local rescue center, they decided to research how easy it is to raise a baby sloth. They discovered it is actually quite difficult and time-consuming so they decided it was best to call in the professionals. Raising baby animals is not only difficult but also a very delicate process where many researchers have worked for a long time to find the correct formulas and diets needed for each baby to not only thrive but to survive. Whenever you find a baby animal or any animal for that matter, please call your local wildlife rescue center so we can come and collect the animal or advise on the situation at hand.

This month we received two baby toucans (Ramphastos swainsonii) that will need caring for until they are old enough to fly on their own. One was found after a tree fell down in Dominicalito (pictured below) and another was found on the ground, too young to be a fledgling, after supposedly falling from its nest. Both are doing well, eating as they should, and growing at a healthy rate!

baby toucanOne of the baby toucans currently in our care. This one that fell to the ground once the tree it's nest was in collapsed

Another bird that was found after falling from its nest was a roadside hawk (Buteo magnirostris) that seemed to have inflammation in one of its legs. Luckily, this baby didn’t have any broken bones so we began his treatment immediately and will continue to feed him until he reaches size and age where he can survive by himself.

One last bird that fell from its nest was a red-lored parrot (Amazona autumnalis) which was found in someone’s garden. He was making loud noises and seemed to be unable to fly, so the rescuers sent us a video and asked us what to do. The baby was squawking loudly as it was hungry, and was a normal noise for these parrots to make, but as he was unable to fly, and they couldn’t locate his nest, it was best for him to be brought to us for care. He is doing well and hopefully, it won’t be long until he learns how to flap those wings and fly back into the trees.

Woolly OpossumOne of the four Woolly Opossums

Some new additions to our nursery are some that we do not see often! Four woolly opossums (Caluromys derbianus) (pictured above) were found alone on the ground with the mother nowhere to be seen. Just a little larger than your thumb, and weighing no more than 20g each, each is being fed with milk all through the night by our staff and volunteers. It is always best for the animals that they grow up around species of their own kind, as this means that the risk of them imprinting on humans is a lot less. Therefore, we will be sure to keep these guys together while they grow up!

young coatiOne of the three young coatis

Another group of babies that we received was some coatis – two were brought together and then just a few days later another was brought to us that was just a little larger than the others (pictured above). The original two were confiscated after being kept in someone’s home illegally, and the other was found alone on the ground. As they are very social animals and all the females in a band will generally have their babies around the same time to be able to protect them all as a group, young coatis grow up with lots of other juveniles to play and interact with so it was a natural process for us to introduce them all to each other once they completed their respective quarantines.

Releases

We were able to release another boa constrictor (Boa imperator) (pictured below)this week, however, this one was just 60cm long. He was caught up and brought to us after they suspected they had accidentally struck it with their weed whacker. He only suffered a minor injury to his underside which needed a suture to help it heal. After a few weeks, he shed his skin and he shed the suture with it, after which he was ready to be released again! All animals, no matter the kind, deserve to be rescued!

boa constrictorThe release of the boa constrictor

We received a call about a common opossum (Didelphis marsupialis) that had also been attacked by a dog. They could see she had at least three babies holding on to her back and so they rushed her here to make sure all were OK. On arrival, we treated the mum for minor injuries and checked on the babies to make sure they were all healthy, too. Not only did she have the three juveniles holding on to her back, but she also had seven babies in her pouch!! All the babies were completely unscathed, and just needed a safe place to rest until mum was healthy enough to be released. She recovered within a little over a week and the whole family was released together back into the jungle, a little further away from the local dogs.

You may recall us rescuing a female porcupine (Coendou mexicanus) last month after she was viciously attacked by a dog. She had a large open wound that needed daily attention from our veterinary staff and interns. It was a slow process but after a month in our care, her wound had healed and she was ready to be released. Cases like this are so rewarding when you can see your hard work paying off each day until finally, you are able to get them back into their natural habitat.

An exciting case we had this month was of a spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus) that had to be rescued from an area where people were harassing it. He had a large fracture to his skull and what looked like a small puncture wound. We heard conflicting stories from the authorities about what exactly happened – one involving a gun, and another that people were throwing rocks at it, so we are not entirely sure exactly what caused the injuries but we began treatment and made a safe space for him to begin to heal. You can imagine the difficulties involved in treating and handling a fully grown, 1.5m long caiman, but our team handled it well, minimizing stress to the animal and keeping everyone involved safe from harm. The wound closed relatively quickly and one final check-up just a few weeks later confirmed that he was ready to go. We wanted to release him far away from local towns and people so our volunteers set out on a long drive to scout out the perfect spot for him and released him back into his natural habitat (pictured below).

spectacled caimanThe release of the spectacled caiman

This month we cared for two juvenile squirrels (Sciurus variegatoides) when they were found on the ground after falling from their nest high up in the tree. Both were healthy and only needed to be provided with a safe, stimulating environment until they were ready to be released.

We were able to release another roadside hawk (Buteo magnirostris) this month after it flew into something, suffering from a head injury. After a few weeks in our care, it completed a successful flight test, was showing great signs of coordination and hunting capability, and we were able to release him back into the jungle.

Another call that we do not receive too often was of a paca (Cuniculus paca) that got trapped in somebody's bodega. This large rodent species is completely nocturnal and is heavily hunted in Costa Rica, despite it being illegal. When we went to collect the animal, he was very stressed but we were able to coerce him into a carrier and bring him straight back to the sanctuary. They are very strong animals so we had to reinforce a carrier to be able to keep him overnight! As he didn’t have any major injuries, just a slight scratch on his head, we cleaned it, fed him, and were able to release him the next day (pictured below). There are several areas well known to be used for hunting of animals so we were sure to release him in an area that provided a little more safety from these illegal activities.

PacaThe Paca release!

Updates

Before our lockdown began we had started construction on a new enclosure in our sanctuary however things began to slow when quarantine commenced. Despite this, we were able to complete our design; building structures within, creating a pool, and planting foliage inside to create an ideal environment for our new sanctuary resident – Brigit the anteater (pictured below)! She was found as a juvenile with paralysis in her back legs; it was unclear why she was unable to use her back feet as there were no signs on her x-rays and she had no obvious injuries. We began treating her with acupuncture and one of our dedicated interns performed various forms of physiotherapy each day. Although she still cannot use her back legs, you can see a noticeable difference in the way she holds her feet up when she walks and climbs. We have designed her new enclosure to make climbing and moving around easy for her, with lots of places to rest and hide. We cannot wait for you to meet her when we are able to open our doors again!

Brigit the anteaterBrigit exploring her new enclosure

The four tropical screech owls we rescued last month have been moved to a larger pre-release enclosure where they continue to develop. They are all growing, eating, and moving well and we love to see them with a little bit more space. As we mentioned previously, it would be amazing if we could have a large, specially designed pre-release enclosure for birds! Our design is 10m wide and encourages continuous flight to allow birds to build up the muscles that they need to fly the distances that they do in the wild. Donate Here

Finally, we have had a number of cases of animals that have tested positive for the canine distemper virus (CDV). This is a deadly disease that can be transmitted to dogs, as well as many species of local wildlife. We always try to educate people to be responsible dog owners, for the sake of the wildlife as well as for the safety of your dogs, and this is just another reason why you should never let your dog interact with animals in the wild and always aim to keep them safe in a fenced-in area. This particular virus is spread through airborne molecules so any close contact means your pets are at a higher risk of being infected. There is no specific treatment or cure for CDV and can be fatal or cause permanent neurological damage. If you ever see an animal on your property always keep your pets inside, observe them, and if they are exhibiting strange behaviors, call your local wildlife rescue.

April 2020