This month has been exceptionally busy with rescues, new patients and releases. In particularly exciting news, we released some animals which we have been rehabilitating for a very long time. Above is a picture was taken from the release of a white-faced monkey which we have been rehabilitating for over five months.
We rescued another northern tamandua from the south after he was found on the ground, struggling to move. Mani, as we named him, weighed 5.6 kilograms upon arrival and was covered in scars, possibly from a fight with another male. He was underweight and extremely weak when MINAE (Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía) brought him in. Once his wounds were cleaned up, he was put on a diet to help increase his weight and moved into one of our large rehabilitation enclosures. Once his body weight is back to normal, and his wounds have healed, he will be released where he was found.
A two-toed sloth was brought into our rehab center after he fell from a tree and sustained injuries at a national park in Uvita. We discovered that the two back legs appeared to be partially paralyzed, most likely from the fall. It was determined that there were no broken bones and after weeks of physical therapy, it has begun to use its legs again. Hopefully, over time, it willregain complete use of its legs and we will be able to release it back at the park.
Yet again, we have been called to rescue a number of juvenile squirrels. Squirrels are very common in this part of Costa Rica, so it is not uncommon for people or household pets to find young squirrels that have fallen out of their nests. With all of the neonates, we must bottle feed them every couple of hours until they are old enough to drink for themselves from a plate. Once they have started consuming solid food, we wait for them to reach an optimum weight, after which, we will return them back to the wild.
A juvenile common opossum´s mother was fatally attacked by a dog. We are currently caring for her until she is old enough to be released and live independently. We have also received and are treating a fiery-billed aracari that arrived with a broken wing.
Two white-collared peccaries were brought to the sanctuary last month after being confiscated by MINAE and the local police. A family had been keeping them in a small, wooden crate, most likely with the intention of raising them for food. As they are evidence in an on-going court case, we cannot release them until the case is resolved. Thankfully, they do not appear to be very habituated to humans and we hope that they can be released soon.
On to the next step...
The young owl, which our interns named Owlivia, has also been moved into a rehab enclosure to encourage it to feed independently. As time goes on, the owl will start flying more in search of food and we will begin training it to hunt.
Aurora, our little two-toed sloth, has been moved into an enclosure in our rehab center to continue her preparation for life in the wild. Aurora was previously kept in our nursery, spending days in our baby garden to learn how to climb and to get vitamin D from the natural sunlight. Aurora will remain in our rehab center until she is old enough to be released into the wild. Two-toed sloths will remain with their mothers for six months to two years, therefore we must wait a little longer until Aurora is independent.
This month we carried out a very special animal rescue. We were called to rescue a baby parrot that had fallen out of a tree. Upon examination, we discovered that the bird had no physical injuries. The family who found the bird informed us that its mother was still visiting the nest and feeding its sibling. We immediately began planning how we could get the chick back to its nest. One of our local volunteers, Tim Brogan, is an arborist and an avid tree-climber. He met with our staff at the nest site, climbed over 10 meters up into the tree, and successfully returned the chick to its sibling. It was amazing to witness this return and we are forever grateful for the help we receive from our local volunteer team.
We released the green iguana that was mentioned in last month´s newsletter after it was hit by a car in Domincalito. Additionally, the common opossum that was brought to us from a past volunteer, after a dog killed its mother, was also released back into the wild. One of the squirrels which we were raising was ready to be returned to the wild, as were two of the little raccoons which we had been raising.
Poncho and Pamona were two juvenile raccoons which arrived within a week of each other. Whilst Pamona´s mother was killed in a road traffic accident, Poncho was found living in a local hotel’s kitchen. We raised the two rascals together in the hopes that they would not become attached to humans. Once they were weaned off milk and began consuming solid foods, we moved them into one of our pre-release enclosures to reduce human contact. They were recently released, together, in a protected area, far away from human disturbance.
This month MINAE came to collect Benito, one of the juvenile kinkajous which we have been caring for since he was a couple of weeks old.
Just over five months ago we received a white-faced monkey which had been electrocuted very badly. Her whole side was damaged, leaving a prominent, gaping wound, as were her arms, hands, and tail. Within a week of her arriving here, we discovered that she was pregnant! As we kept treating her for her wounds, we patiently waited for the day of her baby´s birth. In the first week of the New Year, Scarlet, as we named her, gave birth to a healthy, little baby. Our veterinary team did not want to interfere with the mother and stress her out by checking the young, so up until we released the two, we didn’t know the sex of the infant. We finally released the mother and her baby together, who, after a final inspection, found out that he was a little boy! The release was heart-warming and brought tears to the eyes of everyone who was present (pictured above in this month´s newsletter). Scarlet rushed out of the carrier, and rapidly climbed high up a tree, calling for her troop. It was as if she never missed out on a day in the wild, as her abilities to climb, swing and call were pristine, despite having a new baby on her shoulders! Over five months of hard work all came down to this special day, and from the photo, you can see the pure determination on her face to be wild again!
Our rehab center´s clinic is almost fully equipped. We currently do not have an X-Ray machine, so every time we need to get an X-ray taken from an animal, we must drive to a veterinary clinic in Uvita. Apart from the stressful drive for the animal, these visits cost our NGO a lot of money. In order to take the X-ray above of the female, white face monkey, we were charged $60 USD. On average we travel once a week to the vet to have X-rays taken of any new patient or any of our recovering animals. In the long run, this costs us a lot of money. Please help support our sanctuary by donating to help contribute to the X-ray costs https://alturaswildlifesanctuary.org/donate
A juvenile roadside hawk was brought to us from Uvita after people found it on the ground. Although nothing was physically wrong with it, it was just a little too young to fly. We kept it here for a few days, feeding it and waiting until it could be released. After a successful flight test, we released the young bird back in its area.
The hawk which we mentioned in last month´s newsletter has finally been released after passing its flight test. The hawk was shot in its wing by a poacher, but thankfully, the pellet only hit its muscle and not the joint. The hawk was kept for almost two months in intensive care, but its recovery sped up once it was moved into one of our rehabilitation enclosures, and it was able to exercise its wing.
This Friday we released Uma, one of our northern tamanuduas! Uma arrived in July 2018 after she was found on the side of the road. Upon arrival, her eyes were still shut closed and hardly had any fur, which led us to believe that she was just a couple of days old. Uma developed well and her natural tamandua instincts kicked in at a young age. From the nursery she was moved into one of our pre-release enclosures in order for her to keep developing, growing and learning the vital skills needed to be a successful tamandua in the wild. We occasionally fed her with termites nests which we cut, in order for her to understand what kind of food she would be eating in the wild. All enrichment items we placed in her enclosure, were placed with the intention to highlight her natural instincts. At almost 10 months old, Uma was released! It was so fascinating to watch her release; she shot out of the carrier and rapidly climbed up the tree in search for termites. Within a few minutes she made it to the highest point on the tree, high up from predators; both animal and human. It's moments like this that make our jobs all worthwhile, and we were all very emotional to watch this beautiful anteater return to the wild, where she always belonged!