As our last international volunteers are able to make their way back home, we have been lucky enough to welcome our local volunteers back to help us with our daily tasks. We have been so incredibly grateful for the volunteers who chose to stay and support us throughout such a difficult time. With flights canceled and border closures extended, it was difficult to visualize a time when they could get back to see their families. However, they have all been lucky enough to join repatriation flights which could get them all back to their respective homes. It has been hard work with so few volunteers but we could not have done it without them and we are so lucky to have had their help for the time that we did.
As cases continue to be discovered, measures are still in place to protect the community and so we remain closed to the public until further notice. The health of our staff, local volunteers, and animals are still our priority when managing life in the pandemic.
Despite the drop in help, we have still been busy rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing animals. As we reach the middle of the year, we have already rescued nearly 200 animals which is close to being one of our busiest years yet!
One afternoon we got a call to expect a group of confiscated parrots, however, we were not prepared to learn of the conditions they were kept it. Three green Amazon parrots (Amazona autumnalis, Amazona Farinosa), two parrotlets (Touit costaricensis) and five parakeets (Brotogeris jugularis) were confiscated from horrific conditions; one Amazon parrot was kept in the shell of a toilet, the parakeets in the cage of a fan, and the others trapped under boxes and mesh being forced to sit in the mud, unable to fully stand. Once at Alturas we made sure to give them food and water and left them to rest so our vet team could check them over the following day. Despite the conditions they were rescued from, all the birds seemed healthy and were moved to our quarantine areas where we could provide them with more space and continue to care for them.
A squirrel monkey (pictured below) was rescued after a family supposedly saw him be electrocuted and subsequently fall from the power lines. We were told that they had tried to release him back into the jungle but easily caught him again when he stayed in the same tree, not wanting to move. When our vet checked him over there was neither sign of electrocution nor any other injuries. It was thought that he was perhaps a pet and they had tried to release him but realized that he was not wild. This theory is further enforced by the fact that he is very comfortable being handled and doesn’t show any signs of stress when around humans. Sometimes burns from electrocutions take time to develop therefore it was important we kept him under a watchful eye but when he remained without injury it was obvious that the initial story was false. We have upgraded him to one of our rehab enclosures and hope to be able to find him a troop so he can begin to socialize with his own species.
The baby raccoon (pictured in the cover photo and below)was found on the ground alone exhibiting some odd behaviors. When he arrived he didn’t seem to be moving normally so we were sure to test him for canine distemper virus at the first opportunity. His results were negative so we treated him with fluids and observed him over the following days. Luckily, he began moving and acting like a normal baby raccoon should and soon began to eat well. Now, just a few weeks later he has almost doubled in size and we are limiting our distance to try and prevent imprinting as much as we can.
In our nursery, our latest additions include two baby squirrels (Sciurus variegatoides) that were found alone, with the rescuers unable to locate their nest. With their eyes only just opening, they eat and move well and do not appear to have any problems. Sometimes baby squirrels fall from nests when disturbed by cats, monkeys, or other predatory wildlife. We will continue to raise them until they are big enough to survive in the wild without a mother.
A baby kinkajou was also brought to us after he was found on the ground by himself. It is very common for babies to be found alone on the ground when they have been abandoned by their mother, or if they have become separated from their group. They will stay where they are and wait for their mother to return. Always look around to see if there are any animals nearby if you find a baby as the family may be nearby waiting to collect the juvenile again. This particular kinkajou seems healthy and is eating well despite his rocky start to life.
A beautiful swallow-tailed kite (Elanoides forficatus) (pictured below) was brought to the sanctuary after it was found on the ground. At first, we suspected a fracture in the wing however x-rays showed there was no damage to the bones. Sometimes birds of prey become weak if they are continuously unsuccessful hunting so we have been feeding him to help him gain his strength. However, after a week we did a flight test and he still was not a strong flyer. After another check over our vet believes he suffered some ligament damage which can take a little while longer to heal. We are still raising money for our specialized pre-release enclosure for birds which would help this incredible bird get back to the wild as soon as possible.
Only once before have we received a sea turtle at Alturas but this month we got a call to say that one was on its way (pictured below)! A juvenile hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) was found floating in the ocean by two people out fishing. They pulled her on board and called MINAE immediately who brought her to us to check her over, take x-rays, and give her some medications. She had some serious damage to her shell and was covered in moss and barnacles which can often be an indicator of a more serious issue. They had also removed a fishing hook from her cloaca which had caused further injury. As soon as we had done what we could, she was then whisked away to a center specializing in marine wildlife, where they found that she was septic and had suffered from enteritis which could have been caused by the damage made by the hook. She will continue her treatment there and hopefully be released back into the wild.
A pygmy owl that was suffering from head trauma was showing great signs of recovery and was able to be released just a few weeks later. One of the main issues associated with head trauma in birds of prey is their ability to hunt and so once he had demonstrated great coordination and ability to fly, we knew he was ready to go!
In the last edition, we updated you on how our woolly opossums (Caluromys derbianus) were doing and this month we are able to tell you that two of them have been released!! If you remember, we had to separate the two larger opossums as they were very dominant and we were concerned for the smallest one. As this is around the age they would naturally be weaned from their mother and become independent, and they were strong and healthy, we released them back into the area that they were found. The third opossum has still got some growing to do but we are sure he will soon be back in the wild with his littermates.
Three pacas (cuniculus paca) were rescued from a home where they were being raised for their meat. All juveniles, and all around the same age, we immediately placed them in a pre-release enclosure to observe their behaviors. As they were all at an age that they would naturally be independent of their mothers, we only needed to know that they were exhibiting the correct behaviors that deemed them releasable. Within the first night, they had dug out a den and were strictly nocturnal. None of them were interested in humans and showed signs of fear when we approached them. All of these are great signs and showed that they could definitely be released! If they had been awake during the day or wanted to approach us when we entered their enclosure, it would have been clear that they were habituated to humans which would have significantly reduced their ability to survive in the wild. Heavily hunted by humans, it is important that this species actively evade our presence to avoid being killed for their meat. Just a few days later we released them back into the wild (pictured below) where they could continue their lives in the heart of the jungle.
One of our resident capuchin monkeys (Cebus imitator) was brought to our clinic for a routine check-up this month (pictured below). We always like to try and get our resident animals in for regular check-ups; however, there is a lot of stress involved in this. Therefore, although we do weekly rounds and monitor our animals’ behaviors, feeding habits, and body condition, we take them into the clinic for blood tests and a more extensive check-less frequently. Honey has been suffering from a skin issue so we thought it best to schedule some time in the clinic so we could take a sample and do a more thorough investigation. All of her blood tests came back healthy, she was at an ideal weight, and she was showing no other signs of illness. We have sent off her skin sample to a lab and are awaiting the results to be able to prescribe a suitable treatment for her. After a few days in our clinic, she was reunited with Coco and Pablo in our sanctuary where we will continue to keep a watchful eye on her.
Most of the animals in our rehabilitation center right now are all babies being raised to be released back into the wild. In our pre-release, we have our four tropical screech owls (Megascops choliba), and four chestnut-mandibled toucans (Ramphastos swainsonii) (pictured above), and now we have been able to move our four juvenile coatis (Nasua narica) (pictured below)and three northern tamanduas (Tamandua mexicana), as well! This allows them to be given more space to climb as well as more distance from humans! Our coatis are all growing well and showing caution when humans approach so we hope within a few months they will be able to be released together. The same goes for our northern tamanduas who are all nearly 2kg! They have a little ways to go in terms of weight before they can be released, but our dedicated staff collects termites regularly for them and they get a special anteater mix, too!
- June 2020