As we power through the seventh month of the year, and the fifth month of a global pandemic, we count ourselves lucky to still have the opportunity to do such fulfilling work. Our small team has taken on a lot of extra work, whilst still trying to do all of the ‘normal’ jobs, to ensure the sanctuary runs smoothly. We are very grateful to have such a close-knit, well-oiled, and motivated team to be able to continue saving and caring for the wild animals of Costa Rica. Of course, we also owe a huge thanks to our local volunteers who still come once or twice a week, rain or shine, to help us provide the best care to the animals, and to give us lots of love and laughter. Finally, we also couldn’t have done it without all of our supporters, donors, and followers who have helped us along by sharing our posts, donating money, and booking visits to come and see us next year. As there is still no end in sight, we know how important it is to say “thank you”, and to remind everyone that we are still here, happy, and hoping to see you all soon.
Once again we have accepted various confiscated parrots into our sanctuary. Four red lored Amazon parrots (Amazona autumnalis), three orange chinned parakeets (Brotogeris jugularis), one red fronted parrots (Touit costaricensis) and a white crowned parrot (Pionus senilis) have all found a home in our rehab while they complete their quarantine and we monitor their behaviors. Many of these will be transferred to other sanctuaries as we do not have the space to be able to care for all of the confiscated birds that we receive. Parrots can be very aggressive and we would not want to create a stressful environment for those that we currently house in our sanctuary, nor any newcomers. We did discover that one of the parrots is actually over 40 years old (pictured below)! Many people do not know that Amazon parrots, with the correct nutrition and care, can live up to 80 years!
A juvenile spectacled owl (pictured below) was rescued after the tree his nest was in was cut down. With a wingspan of over 90cm, the spectacled owl is the largest owl species of Costa Rica. They are dependent on their parents for up to a year and aren’t fully able to fly until they complete a long molting process which can sometimes take up to five years in captivity! He will be raised here until we are sure he is fit to survive in the wild by himself.
We currently provide care to three squirrel monkeys (Saimiri oerstedii); one of which featured in our latest newsletter and is doing well in our rehabilitation center. The other two are just babies and were rescued within a few weeks of each other. The first of which (pictured below) was found with its mother after they were electrocuted on un-insulated power lines. Unfortunately, the mum did not survive however the baby suffered minor injuries and seems to be recovering well. The second was found alone on the ground, he was covered in fleas but otherwise healthy. They are both eating well and filling our nursery with incessant squeaks every time we enter. Here in Costa Rica, we have two subspecies of squirrel monkey; one can be found in the southern parts of Costa Rica surrounding Corcovado and Golfito, and the other can be found further north throughout Manuel Antonio and surrounding areas. As their ranges do not naturally overlap, we could not consider introducing these two juveniles to each other however we remain hopeful we may be able to integrate them into different groups in other sanctuaries.
A baby two-toed sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) (pictured below) was found alone on the ground and brought to us for rehabilitation. Despite the rescuers keeping him for two days without food, the baby is eating well and seems to be healthy. We cannot stress enough how important it is to look for other sloths in the trees around you when you find a baby. The mother is often close by, waiting for a safe moment to come down to collect her young. In addition to this, it is always important to call your local rescue center as soon as you make the decision to rescue an animal (or, even better, before! We are always eager to offer advice in these situations, also). The damage done to a young animal who does not receive food or water over a few days is often irreparable and so we are lucky this baby remains healthy and hungry for more milk!
Only 5-6% of our rescues are reptiles, so you can imagine it is not often that we receive something that is not a bird or a mammal. However, this month we received a call from a young man who had accidentally struck a turtle with his machete whilst he was cutting some grass. He called us immediately for us to go and collect it. It had quite severe damage to its shell but our vets applied a colloidal membrane that protects the wound and promotes healing. He seems relatively unaffected by the wound, continues to eat well and our vet staff is monitoring him closely for signs of infection.
As the most common animal that we receive here at Alturas, the common opossum (Didelphis marsupialis) really haven’t disappointed this month! We currently have 13 juvenile opossums in our care, all of which were found alone and too young to be alone. We received five sets of littermates all on separate occasions, all of which are being kept separate to ensure they remain healthy. Although half of them have been weaned from the milk, seven still require milk in the evenings and all are being fed during our night feedings by our dedicated staff. When they reach an appropriate weight, they will all be released back to the areas in which they were found.
An aracari (Pteroglossus frantzii) came to us with ligament damage in his shoulder after being found in the middle of a busy highway. We can only assume he was hit by a car as birds often get disorientated in busy traffic and his injuries suggested a collision of sorts. Thankfully, with no broken bones, he has had his wing wrapped up to prevent further damage and to allow it to heal quickly and correctly.
A sad story this month is of a paca (Cuniculus paca) that was kept in captivity to train dogs how to hunt for wild animals. It is illegal to hunt for wild animals and The Costa Rican Wildlife Conservation Act enforces that anyone caught hunting can face a $3,000 USD fine and/or three months in prison. However, it is still quite common for people to head in to the jungle to help feed their families. Despite its prolonged proximity to humans, the paca is still very wild and shows signs of fear and aggression towards people. This suggests he could still be a candidate for release and has been moved to one of our pre-release enclosures where our vet staff and biologists can continue to observe him.
We are still full to the brim with babies and so wanted to provide a little update for all of you lovers of everything small, cute, and sometimes spiky.
As well as the baby sloth, 13 common opossums, and two squirrel monkeys we have received this month, our nursery is still home to several other babies and our staff continues to care for them as they grow older and closer to release.
The baby raccoon (pictured below)that we received at the start of last month has been moved out of our nursery and into one of our rehabilitation enclosures! In a little over a month, he has doubled in weight and is growing into a healthy young raccoon! He has a healthy appetite and lots of energy, and is often seen playing with the leaves and mangoes we leave in his enclosure. We are trying to remain as hands off as possible to ensure he does not become habituated to us.
The juvenile kinkajou (Potos flavus) is still being bottle (pictured below)fed but eats well and gets bigger every day. The juvenile porcupine (Coendou mexicanus) is spending more time in an outdoor enclosure; we moved him out a few weeks ago but found he was eating less and so we have been habituating him to his new space over time and now he continues to eat well. The two squirrels (Sciurus variegatoides) have been moved to a rehabilitation enclosure which gives them more space to explore and more exposure to the natural environment.
Two orange-chinned parakeets (Brotogeris jugularis) were confiscated after being found in someone’s home. Although illegal pets, neither were showing signs of habituation and were thought to still be very wild. After close observation, it was decided that they could still be returned to their natural habitat so we were thrilled to be able to see them fly back into the jungle.
We had three tropical screech owls (Megascops choliba) reside with us after they were all found on the ground alone. After spending several months with us, and their final weeks in our pre-release enclosure, they all reached their ideal weights and completed successful hunting tests. This meant that they were all able to be released into the areas that they were rescued from; another happy story!
Two roadside hawks (Buteo magnirostris) spent some time with us in our rescue center this month. One was found on the side of the road and we can only assume was hit by a car. He suffered from head trauma but was eating and recovering well. The other was a juvenile (pictured below) and was found after a branch was cut down in a tree. They were unable to find a nest therefore we were unsure if the two events were related or if something else had caused the juvenile to fall. Either way, he couldn’t be left on the ground by himself therefore he was brought to us until he matured. Thankfully, neither of them was with us for long before they were able to be released and, after just a few weeks of care, they were able to return to the jungle.