November News


What a busy month for Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary. We have welcomed more volunteers to our program, animals to our rehab center, and visitors on our tours. While we are still adhering to protocols to protect our health and the health of the animals, we are so glad to have more hands to help with our daily tasks and share our mission to rescue, rehabilitate, and release wildlife with visitors once again!

Tours - As Costa Rica has slowly opened their doors, so has Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary. We have now opened our online booking system for the weekend tours at 9 am, 11 am, and 1 pm!! Visit our website today to book your tour! If you are interested in booking a tour for Tuesday –Friday, please email  and as always, thank you for your support!!

We have recently said farewell to the first two international interns we were able to welcome in September. During their time here, these two each carried out a research project. The results generated will be very useful for our knowledge of the care of our wildlife. As you read last month, Claudia carried out her project on neonatal growth. Read about Carter’s experience here.


green iguanaThe green iguana

The chestnut-mandibled toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii) that was confiscated from somebody’s house has been moved to one of our pre-release enclosures. We hoped that with more space, the bird would be able to behave more naturally, however, we have not seen these favorable behaviors. The toucan has a great affinity for humans, and we have therefore decided that it is not a suitable candidate for release. After discussions with the team here, we have made the decision to move the toucan into our sanctuary where it will be provided the high-quality care we constantly strive for.

The young agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) (pictured below) has been growing and eating very well, and the best part is that he does not want to be around humans (he is not imprinting on us!) This is always important when raising young animals. Agoutis will typically stop nursing after they are five months old. Naturally, they will become independent once their mothers give birth to the next litter. This one is still quite young and still drinking milk during the day and night, but we hope is on a great path to release.

agoutiThe agouti, growing so quickly!

The two baby anteaters (Tamandua mexicana) (pictured below) that came to us last month are progressing in their rehabilitation. They are now both outside of the incubator, which is a big step for baby animals we care for. They are eating very well, day and night, and will hopefully be back in the wild this time next year. Our volunteers and interns are vital in their care as they help us feed them after hours and into the night. The staff is very appreciative of their help after months without volunteers and interns.

juvenile anteaterOne of the juvenile anteaters in our care

Another animal we hope to release soon is the woolly opossum (Caluromys derbianus) we have been raising since when it was a baby. Since it is a nocturnal species, we are feeding it at night.

The raccoon that remained in our care after we released the other last month is unfortunately not a candidate for release. It was kept as a pet previously and while we hoped introducing the two together would help him to develop natural raccoon behaviors, it was not a successful introduction. We have therefore made the decision to transfer him to another sanctuary, where he will live together with other non-releasable raccoons. Working together with sanctuaries in Costa Rica shows how dedicated to the wildlife we all are.

The juvenile kinkajou (Potus flavus) is nearing his release as he has been moved into one of our pre-release enclosures (pictured in the cover photo and below). He is able to climb more and we are working hard to make sure he is ready for release. We hope to share his release in next month’s newsletter.

kinkajouThe kinkajou utilizing an enrichment device built specifically for him by one of our interns. Kinkajous will often hang upside down in the wild to obtain their food, and this device was built in order to encourage his natural behavior


A previous pet, and escaped boa constrictor (Boa imperator) (pictured below) was brought to us this month. Its head was a bit swollen when it arrived but the reptile was showing no traumas or injury otherwise. We are trying to get it to eat and will be evaluating and discussing what will happen next as we learn more about this specific individual.

boa constrictorOur vet team carrying out a check-up on the boa. We place it in this snake-restraining tube in order to safely inspect it.

We received a chestnut-mandibled toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii) this month after it was hit by a bus. This individual was very lucky and somehow did not obtain any major injuries. The bird is currently in one of our rehab enclosures (pictured below) and must fly successfully before we can release it.

toucanThe toucan awaiting its flight test

While we would love to have only great stories and happy endings, that is not the reality of wildlife rescue work. We have days when animals come and there is nothing we can do to help. One of these days occurred when a howler monkey (Alouatta palliata) arrived after it had been electrocuted by electricity lines. The burns were so bad that she did not make it on the drive to us. The more unfortunate part of this case is that she was carrying a week old baby. The baby also suffered burns due to this electrocution. Although the baby was eating well, after a few days and treatment, the baby succumbed to internal injuries. These days are difficult, especially when we work so hard to care for an animal. Your visits, donations, help through volunteering, and kind words do keep us inspired to continue carrying out the work we do through difficult times like these.

A unique intake came to us after someone reported a caiman that had been struck by a machete. Upon arrival, we were sad and frustrated about this animal. It was struck below the neck, hitting a vertebrate and causing a large, open wound. The wound was thoroughly cleaned and the caiman was treated with medication to ease the pain. Unfortunately, the large reptile did not make it as the trauma was too much and it died overnight.

This month we have rescued a number of animals who were hit by motor vehicles, one of which, was a squirrel monkey (Saimiri oerstedii). While it did not show any outward wounds and the x-rays were clear, we kept it under observation for a short time. We always do this to ensure that the animal has no major issues which the x-ray might not show. During the short time that it was here for, it ate well and thankfully was quickly released back.

Sadly, another squirrel monkey (Saimiri oerstedii) that was hit by a motorbike was brought to us. This individual unfortunately did not make it due to internal damage. Please use caution when driving, wherever you are.


An exciting month of releases was started off with the release of the Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine (Coendou mexicanus) we have been raising. This baby came from Reserva Playa Tortuga after it fell to the ground during a storm. With great care, the rodent has been released back to the wild through a soft release. A soft release, as the name implies, allows an animal to be re-introduced to the wild, slowly, usually by having its wild diet supplemented at first, and then phased out slowly. It is fortunate to have great relationships with other organizations, and Reserva Playa Tortuga has been key in supplementing this porcupine’s diet and keeping an eye out for it.

Every time we have hand-raised juveniles, especially for an extended period of time, it is so exciting to be able to get to release them. Almost a year ago we received two juvenile anteaters (Tamandua Mexicana) and only now got the chance to release them (pictured below)! Through research, as well as data we receive from incoming patients, we were able to estimate age and weight when anteaters become independent. We use this information to guide us on releases and to determine when an animal will be ready for the wild.

alturas team hiking through the jungleThe Alturas team hiking through the jungle to release the two anteaters

two anteatersOne of the two anteaters climbed straight up a tree in the search for termites

Another toucan came into our clinic but was fortunately returned to the wild after only a few days in our care. This chestnut-mandibled toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii) flew into the window of a house, a common occurrence for birds. You can use stickers/ decals on your windows in order to prevent this from happening.

The other iguana (Iguana iguana) we received last month after one of our local volunteers found it, has been successfully released. Upon arrival, it appeared to have wounds consistent with injuries from a car accident but healed well and quickly. We were confident it was ready for release and sent it back to the wild.

Electricity lines in Costa Rica are not always insulated. An arboreal animal often confuses the wires for branches and will use these to climb across highways. A variegated squirrel (Sciurus variegatoides) was brought to our center after falling victim to an electrical shock. Luckily, the burns were superficial, and after finishing its treatment, it was successfully released. We have placed some wildlife bridges across roads in our area but would love to place more. We are trying to influence ICE (Costa Rican Institute of Electricity) in order to help prevent these types of accidents by insulating the lines.

November 2020