Our Christmas Edition!

volunteers in jungle releasing ocelot

We would first like to start by thanking everyone for their support in getting through another year of animal emergencies and incredible animal releases. We have had the help of 160 volunteers, tended to 420 animals, and carried out 27 educational visits at schools, reaching out to almost 800 students. We could not do this without our visitors, ongoing supporters and generous donors. Not only that, but this month we celebrated our 5th birthday, and we can’t help but look back and see all of the amazing changes we have made to our sanctuary.


We have an incredibly exciting release that we have been waiting for, for a long time! This month we have been able to release the ocelot that we received a year and a half ago after she was moved to our custom-built pre-release enclosure at the start of this year. Over the course of 2019 we used different methods to stimulate the behaviors we would expect to see in a wild feline and we used cameras to monitor her throughout her development. Naturally, ocelots would be around 12 months of age when they become completely independent from their mother and they reach sexual maturity around 18 months of age, therefore we felt this was a perfect stage in her life to be able to be released. We scouted out a location in a protected area a few weeks before the proposed release so on the day she was transported there without a hiccup, and we could watch her run into the natural environment.

This ocelot was found in May 2018 after her mother was hit by a car and killed; too young to survive in the jungle by herself. We decided to raise her here at Alturas as we had sent many ocelots to other institutions in the past, only to find out later on that they were unable to be released or too habituated to humans. We moved her to a secluded enclosure where she learned to climb by herself and then we could begin fundraising for an enclosure specifically designed for the needs of a rehabilitating ocelot. We were able to raise enough money to build her this enclosure and have her moved in by December 31st, 2018. Now, with the hard work and passion shown by our incredible workforce, she has been released into her natural habitat with a radio collar so we can track her during the next stage of her journey.

female Ocelot prereleaseThe female Ocelot inside one of her hide boxes pre-release

carrying the ocelot to the release siteIt was a hike! The staff took it in turns carrying the ocelot to the release site deep in the jungle. 

watch ocelot run into the jungleSuccess! Watching the ocelot run into the jungle once the carrier door was opened 

The Sloths!

Over the space of just one week, we were able to help three, three-toed sloths! This year we have only received seven three-toed sloths so for three of them to be over the course of a week was really something special! Keep reading to learn about their stories…

A juvenile sloth (pictured below) was found close to the ground and was brought to us as they believed he was too small to be by himself. On arrival, he seemed healthy but we continued to monitor him to ensure he was moving and eating well. Three-toed sloths become independent a lot sooner than two-toed sloths – whilst two-toed sloths are generally weaned and independent at around 9 months old, three-toed sloths are fully independent between 2-4 months old! Therefore, although they may seem very small, they are actually fully equipped to be able to survive by themselves! This particular sloth was healthy, and we think he must have just found himself on a low bearing branch which was cause for concern from members of the public. We were able to release him after just a few days in our care!

juvenile slothReleased back in the same spot!

If you find an animal and you are unsure if it needs rescuing, please call us! We can usually lend advice over the phone and we are happy to talk with you about any situation! Sometimes the stress involved in catching and handling an animal can cause many problems to an otherwise healthy animal so we try to prevent this as much as possible.

The second sloth we received was an adult female (pictured below) who had been seen falling from a great height by some construction workers nearby. They estimated she must have fallen between 15-20m after a branch had broken and they found her laying on the ground, presumably in shock. They called us immediately and we rushed to the scene to collect her and bring her back to the sanctuary. Our vet team checked her over and, amazingly, she didn’t have any broken bones! We gave her leaves and let her adjust to her new surroundings so we could make sure she was moving well and didn’t seem to be in any pain. After a couple of days, it was evident she was healthy and was unaffected by her fall so we were able to release her where we had collected her.

adult three toed slothNo injuries were found. This adult three-toed sloth was released back into the wild after falling from great heights!

Our last sloth was a baby who was found near the base of a tree and so a concerned citizen took her into her house to keep her safe. We arranged to go and collect the baby however when we arrived we could see the mum in the trees above where the baby had been found. Sometimes sloths accidentally drop their baby and will come to the ground to retrieve them again however this can sometimes take a few hours, therefore, it is imperative you always check to see if there is an adult sloth nearby before intervening. We planned to try and reunite the baby with its mum, so we had to make sure the baby was safe from predators and shielded from the weather. We asked the neighbors to keep their dogs inside until we knew the baby sloth was safe, and we constructed a small box and tied it around 2m up the tree so it wasn’t left on the ground, just in case. The baby immediately started crying for its mother and you could see that the mum responded to the baby’s cries! Within a few hours, the mother had come to collect the baby and we were overjoyed to be a part of another happy ending!


New to our rescue center this month are a few more from the parrot species.

Two Red-lored parrots were confiscated from the illegal pet trade. One was only fed a diet of bread, milk, and coffee!! This makes it very difficult to transition it over to a healthy and more natural diet, and so we have to slowly introduce different fruits and vegetables, many of which he may never have tried before! A parakeet and a white-headed parrot were also confiscated from life as illegal pets. All four of these birds will be unable to be released due to their habituation to humans, therefore, they will all complete their respective quarantine periods, and then will hopefully be introduced to our other parrots and parakeets to start forming social bonds with species of their own kind.

red lored parrotOne of the Red-lored parrots currently in our care. 

white headed parrotThe White-headed parrot

One of our local volunteers found a young white-faced capuchin near her mother who had died after being electrocuted. The juvenile was healthy, with just a few minor burns to her fingers. Primates are very social animals therefore it was important for us to get her integrated into a troop so she could interact with her own species before being released. Luckily another sanctuary in Costa Rica was able to help, and we transferred her after a few days with the hopes she will be able to be released back into the wild later on in life.

As many of you may already know, we work closely with other sanctuaries in Costa Rica to ensure that every animal is receiving the best possible care. We would never choose to raise a social animal alone, knowing they have a much better chance of being released when with animals of their own kind.

A rare rescue for us was of a black vulture (pictured below) which was found on the side of the road. Once he was checked over in the clinic it was discovered that he was blind in one eye which could explain why he was unable to fly. We hope to help him gain weight and keep him under observation to see how he develops in our care.

black vultureThe black vulture


Since releasing the ocelot, we have been able to move the margay into our large enclosure for the next stage of her rehabilitation, with the hopes to release her soon, and we have also moved Cristiano, a young ocelot, into a new enclosure where he can begin to explore a little bit more. Cristiano has had several surgeries to help mend his fragile bones as caused by a metabolic bone disease he suffers from, due to a poor diet from birth. Prior to being rescued, he was kept as a pet. Despite supplementing his food and feeding him the correct diet since he arrived at Alturas, these kinds of diseases are irreparable and therefore he will be unable to be released. However, we hope to encourage more natural behaviors and increase his levels of movement until we are sure he will be comfortable in a much larger enclosure on our sanctuary – baby steps for Cristiano

The juvenile grison is thriving in our rehabilitation center; he has been upgraded to a larger enclosure and is moving and eating exactly as he should for a grison his age! We have developed his area to encourage more natural behaviors and hopefully make him less reliant on humans.


We were also lucky enough to be able to release two capuchin monkeys, as well! These two females were brought to us together after both being hit by a car near Baru. Someone at the scene suggested taking the monkeys to the nearby vet clinic however in these instances we would urge people to bring any wild animal directly to the nearest wildlife sanctuary – this is the same for anywhere in the world – handling a monkey is not the same as restraining a dog or a cat! Both of the capuchins suffered minor head injuries but had no broken bones and were eating and moving well so we knew we should get them back into the wild as soon as possible. Just a few days later we were driving them back to Baru to reunite them with their troop!

Finally, a toucan that we mentioned in last month’s newsletter was released back into the wild! We suspected that he had been hit by a car and only needed a few weeks in our care to fully heal from its injuries.

December 2019 News