How are we already approaching the end of the year? It feels as though the year was put in slow motion and suddenly the fast forward button was hit and 2021 is just around the corner. What a whirlwind of a year it has been. Plans have not gone as we hoped, our day to day has taken a 180-degree turn, and we are missing our volunteers, interns, visitors, and everyday norms more as each day passes.
While it could be easy to feel down on our luck, we are looking at how fortunate we are to have local volunteers willing to come, the support of donors here and around the world, and to still be able to continue our work rescuing wildlife. None of this would be possible without you! We can’t say thank you enough.
In news not related to Covid-19, we have been trying out some different activities to ensure we keep our spirits up, or at least just get a good laugh in every week at our meetings. Each Monday in August we have had a different theme and our staff has not disappointed. We are dressing up and competing for who dressed the best (or worst) to meet the theme. Animal day, was the best and most interesting so far. Here we have an anteater, a spider monkey, a hermit crab, a male howler monkey, and a crocodile. Maybe we do not look exactly like these animals, but the laughs we had were priceless during the difficult times.
This month we were able to witness something in our sanctuary that was so natural and why we encourage you to call a rescue center before doing anything with a wild animal (unless it is obviously hurt or in immediate danger). One Saturday morning one of our staff members saw a baby olingo in the plants behind our spider monkey enclosure. As we advise everyone to do when finding a young animal, we stood back and watched to see if its mother was nearby. Just a few moments later we saw the mother high up in the tree searching for the baby and a way to get down to it. After a little time, the baby found a tree to get higher up towards the mom and they were reunited. Baby animals are best raised with their own mother and when finding any young, that are not in immediate danger (nearby dogs or road traffic, for example) it is best to call a rescue center to see what they advise. Sometimes an animal isn’t even a baby and is completely fine on its own. We love to help all of the animals but want to make sure they are given the best chance at a completely natural life.
Now for one of the main reasons we are here; rescuing wildlife in need. This month, as all others, has brought quite a variety of animals to our clinic.
The beginning of the month brought us 3 large species we don’t see in our clinic often. Two American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) were brought to us by the Ministry of Environment, Energy, and Telecommunications (MINAE) along with a coyote (Canis latrans) (pictured below). These animals were being kept in an illegal zoo and brought to us to get evaluated. The crocodiles were very large but healthy after the examination. The biologist and vet team agreed they would be candidates for release so MINAE carried this out. The coyote, however, was in captivity for about 6-7 years according to MINAE’s report. She was very nervous and stressed so we did not do too much in regard to medical examinations that night. Since she showed no external injuries, we thought it best to give her the chance to rest and get accustomed to her new surroundings. Now that she has been here a few weeks and we have been able to check and observe her, she is healthy and has been moved to a large enclosure away from people to reduce any extra daily stress. We are in discussions with other sanctuaries to transfer her to as we do not currently have space or funds to build her the proper enclosure she needs. The way sanctuaries work together is wonderful because the animals’ welfare is always a priority.
Like many of the parrots that come into our care, this month we received two more parrots that were being kept as pets but were confiscated by MINAE. Unfortunately, parrots that have been pets for many years do not display natural behaviors, preventing them from being candidates for release. Similar to the parrots in our permanent care, these two made sounds mimicking human noises, were fed a poor diet, and very habituated to humans. Working with other sanctuaries allowed us to find a place where they will have more space, as our aviary is currently full. We appreciate the work we are all doing around the country to care for wildlife, giving them the best chance in the wild or high quality of life.
An adult two-fingered sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) came into our care after it had been electrocuted. (pictured below). Electrocutions can be difficult as the animal can continue to develop burns even after a couple of days. She was weak and not moving much the first couple of days in our clinic but our vet staff is smart and determined. We have been treating it with different medications for pain, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotics and seeing great improvements with activity and eating habits. We hope to put her in a larger enclosure soon to allow her to move around more and regain her strength.
The phones have been ringing for emergencies. A young iguana (Iguana iguana) was brought to us after two young men saw it hit by a car. Fortunately, this little one only sustained minor injuries. There was some swelling on the face and after a day it went down and he was very active. We are glad to have a quick recovery and release for this young iguana.
A very ‘rare to our clinic’ sea creature came a little over a week ago after being found near the beach, not swimming. An Olive Ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea) (pictured below) was brought to us by the coast guard. We would normally transfer these species to another location as we don’t have the facilities for long-term care, but after doing blood work and x-rays (this is how we discovered she has eggs) we found no major issues. We are trying all we can to get her strong to have a rapid release without the stress of being transferred all over the country.
Fortunately, this month has not brought too many baby animals, but we do not want to say that because when we do, the nursery seems to fill up overnight. But, we did receive one baby wooly opossum (Caluromys derbianus) after it was found alone. The people who brought it thought the mother was killed, but could not confirm. With animals, it can be hard to know their real story, if they are sick, injured, or abandoned. For this reason, when we don’t have a lot of information to go on, we do all we can to examine, observe, and care for the animal. In this case, the woolly opossum is now drinking milk very well and on its own. This is an important step in rehabilitation because then we don’t have to manipulate the animal in any way to ensure it is getting the nutrients it needs.
We also received a call about a howler monkey (Alouatta palliata) that was being observed after what was thought to be electrocution. A member of staff went searching for it and unfortunately could not get it as it was far up in the trees (as howlers should be). We will be making a few passes here over the next couple of days to try and collect him to get the care he needs. We hope to find him and give this young male the treatment he needs.
While one staff member was searching for the howler, another found a grey-necked wood rail (Aramides cajaneus) on his way home from work. We went to meet him to bring the bird back to the sanctuary to see how we could help. Upon arrival, we were sad to see it had multiple breaks in the right leg, abrasions in the left leg, and numerous breaks in the right-wing. Upon discussion with the vet team, they did make the difficult decision to humanely euthanize this animal. The vet team goes through all of the potential options and treatment possibilities, looking at what is best for the animal before deciding what to do. Sometimes lengthy treatment plans involving daily capture and medication can put more stress on an animal that is already trying to heal and can cause more harm than good in the long run.
Shortly after these two calls, an aracari (Pteroglossus frantzii) was brought to us after it flew into a window. This is a common occurrence here and around the world and we encourage everyone to use curtains, blinds, or even window decals so birds see the window as a solid object. While examining the animal in the clinic, we found a lot of blood in the mouth. As we were cleaning to prevent blood from getting in the airway, the aracari, unfortunately, started seizing, showing us there was major brain trauma. This was a sad end to our workday, but the following releases that took place this month help remind us these tough days do get better.
The baby kinkajou (Potos flavus) that was found in a palm plantation is doing well. He is growing, eating more, in a larger space so learning to move more, and overall, on route to release. We are fortunate to be able to continue this care and rehabilitation due to your support and those from around the world. If you would like to support us or continue supporting us, you can do so by clicking the button below
The juvenile raccoon (Procyon lotor) that has been in our care for almost three months has been moved to one of our pre-release enclosures to follow protocols in place to reduce the risk of habituation. Before it was moved, it was weaned from the milk and introduced foods to prepare it for adulthood.
The baby two-fingered sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) we rescued last month has been transferred to another sanctuary as we have to make sure we are utilizing our resources responsibly. They need a lot of goat’s milk and around the clock feedings and care. Because we are low on volunteers and staff, we spoke with another sanctuary that is able to provide for it for the long term. Baby sloths are typically with their mother for about a year, so it is a long term commitment and expense for any sanctuary, but particularly with the struggles the pandemic has brought to us financially. We know it is in good hands and will get great care.
Some changes and moves have been made within our permanent residents. We recently moved the ocelot, ‘Leo,’ into our sanctuary (pictured below). He is unable to be released due to being too habituated to humans, so we have created a temporary location for him with natural plants and branches for him to explore.
One of the squirrel monkeys (Saimiri oerstedii citrinellus) from our nursery (pictured below) has been introduced to an adult, male squirrel monkey in our rehab center. Both these primates were previously kept as pets and due to their behavior, they are not releasable. We will be transferring the two squirrel monkeys to our sanctuary once they get a little more accustomed to each other.
A popular resident in our sanctuary, Julieta, is being slowly introduced to a new parrot that has a similar story. Lolita (pictured below) was kept as a pet for many years and because of the behaviors she displays, we are trying to pair these two up since it is great natural behavior to encourage and even a form of enrichment. Right now they are on separate perches able to view and hear each other in hopes that they might bond.
One of the anteaters, Tito, we have been raising has also been moved to our sanctuary. He arrived with only one eye and we believe he was born like this. We still raised him like we would any other anteater, but as he has grown and developed, his growth has shown some abnormalities not making him a candidate for release. He is now together with Brigit, our other non-releasable anteater in our sanctuary (pictured below)
The aracari (Pteroglossus frantzii) we mentioned in last month's newsletter has been moved to a larger enclosure (pictured below). We are planning for its release any time now but wanted the bird to exercise its wings a little more before it was able to go out into the wild once again.
We hope you come to visit us on a tour to see our new additions and learn more about their stories. You can reserve a tour by emailing . With the current protocols and regulations in place and limited staff, we are doing our tours per request as we are not able to offer them every day just yet.
The always exciting part of our work is releasing the animals we have worked so hard to raise, medicate, strengthen, and heal. This month gave us many rewarding moments as we were able to release many animals we have had in our care for an extended amount of time.
Remember those four young coatis (Nasua narica) we were raising? They have been released at last, together, in an area deep in the jungle to forage for food and live out their lives. These were four particularly exciting releases as coatis can be difficult to raise and release successfully. Since they had their own little band, it gave them the best chance possible since they were able to pick up on social cues, behave more naturally, and know their con-specifics.
Along with the four young coatis, the four chesnut mandibled toucans (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii) we have been caring for over the past few months are now flying high amongst the trees. We are still supplementing their food in the wild until they are completely dependent enough to search for their own meals (pictured below). To prepare for their release, they were placed in a larger enclosure to work on their flight muscles and so we could observe their behaviors. We are still raising money for the flight aviary for birds being rehabilitated. We are getting so close to our goal. You can donate to that particular project by clicking the button below.
As we mentioned the many opossums (Didelphis marsupialis) that were in our care last month, we were able to release two that were larger and didn’t need to be in our care for very long. They were eating and climbing well when they reached the age and weight opossums are found to be independent in the wild.
If you find an animal, you have many options of who to call and what to do. Ideally, you would call a rescue center to get the best advice, but sometimes you need to act fast and may not have a number available so you could call MINAE here in Costa Rica, or even the police or fire department (we recommend having the information of your nearest rehabilitation and rescue center just in case).
The firefighters were called about a boa constrictor (Boa imperator) stuck in fencing and they said it appeared to be injured on its side and mouth. Once it arrived here, we found it had a skin issue and a small injury inside the mouth. Since it was nothing too severe, it was able to recuperate with some of the best treatment and was released just a little over a week later. We have also released a road-side hide which was in our care for a couple of weeks. The raptor sustained minor injuries after being hit by a car.
- August 2020