September 2018 News

juvenile raccoons

Welcome to this month’s newsletter! So far it has been a slow month in terms of incoming patients, which is a good thing when it comes to an animal rescue clinic!


We will start by introducing everyone to our smallest addition, a female, juvenile raccoon that was brought in with no obvious injuries. Penelope, arrived about two weeks after we rescued, Pacho, the male raccoon whose mother was killed by a car in Ojochal (mentioned in last month’s newsletter). Although it’s not ideal that we have another abandoned raccoon, we have introduced these two kits together in the hope that they will not imprint on humans and be fit for release, once slightly older. So what could have happened to Penelope? Mother raccoons will often leave their young alone in order to hunt for food. When coming across a young raccoon by itself, very often people assume that something is wrong with it, and take it to a rescue center. Of course now we could never find its mother again, so we need to raise Penelope ourselves until she is fit for release (Pacho and Penelope are photographed in the cover photo)

Yet another sea bird has been rescued from the beach in Uvita after it was found stranded and unable to fly, this time it was a tropicbird. There are several reasons as to why a sea bird may be unable to fly and we are unsure which may be the reason for this particular bird, as it does not have any apparent injuries. It is far more stressful for marine animals to be kept in a rehab center compared to terrestrial one as they are not used to being on land therefore we are working hard to get back to full health so we can release him as soon as possible.

injured seabirdThe rescued tropicbird

Soft Release

We have moved the barred owl (mentioned in last month's newsletter) into one of our pre-release enclosures in order to prepare it for its release back into the wild (pictured below). This owl arrived at the sanctuary after flying into a metal fence, badly damaging its muscle and feathers. Many animals experience stress in captivity and therefore we endeavor to release wildlife which we are caring for as soon as possible. This owl still has not grown its complete plumage, which may make its flight louder than normal, hindering its ability to catch prey successfully. Instead of keeping this owl in captivity until it regrows its damaged feathers, we have decided to carry out a soft release, which means that we will release it on site, and substitute its diet by providing food daily. We will install an infra-red camera outside of its enclosure in order to monitor its activity in the wild. We will begin the soft release next week.

barred owl in cage daytime thumb barred owl in cage nighttime thumb


pelican currently being rehabilitatedThe pelican currently being rehabilitated

We carried out a flight test with the brown pelican which we mentioned in the last month’s newsletter. We came to the conclusion that it is not quite ready yet for release, and therefore are keeping it at the sanctuary temporarily until we are sure about its release.   

This month the kite which the sanctuary was rehabilitating was successfully released! MINAE collected the bird of prey and released it in San Isidrio, which was where it was rescued from.

New sanctuary animal!

boa constrictorOur new sanctuary resident, a boa constrictor

Our sanctuary has received a new resident animal! We have rescued an un-releasable Boa constrictor after it was surrendered to another sanctuary. Alturas wildlife sanctuary agreed to take on the reptile. This boa was kept as a pet its whole life and therefore never exercised its abilities to catch live prey. Now, after years in captivity, not needing to hunt, it would not be able to identify its prey in the wild. Visit this boa and the other animals in our sanctuary on one of our four daily tours (Tuesday to Sunday). Book a tour here.

White-faced monkey training

We have begun positive reinforcement training (PRT) with the three Capuchin girls in our sanctuary. The concept of PRT is simple; we reward good behavior with a high value food, and ignore bad behavior. The girls each have their own colored stick which they must hold on to, after which they will receive a small peanut (their high value food item). Apart from PRT being a valuable form of enrichment and mental stimulation for the primates, PRT also assists us in administering health checks and maintaining a good, level of animal management (easily moving them from one part of their enclosure to the other in order to clean).  Eventually, we can develop this technique to teach them to present different parts of their bodies as well as open their mouths and allow us to administer medicine.  Additionally, PRT can help to develop a good human-animal bond. This is invaluable since the monkeys have previously had bad experiences with humans since they were kept as pets.

white faced monkeys during trainingHoney, one of the three white-faced monkeys during training


If you see a wild animal that has been involved in a road traffic accident please call Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary on +506 8589 7912
Our staff are on call 24/7 and have the amenities to rescue and care for any injured animal.

ocelot road kill costa ricaAn Ocelot, succumbing to death after being hit by a vehicle

Loyal Clarke, a member of staff here at Alturas, has been recording the number of animals that have died from road traffic accidents over a 20km stretch of road.  Now, he has over a year worth of data and, from the 17th September 2017 until the 17th September 2018, he has documented 347 individuals.  That is 347 animals that, due to many people not stopping after an accident, have not even made it to our clinic for treatment and instead are left to suffer on the side of the road.  It is so important that we reduce the number of fatalities and treat as many individuals as possible.  However, we rely on good Samaritans to call us in the case of an emergency so please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have witnessed or have been involved in an accident and believe a wild animal is injured. The staff at Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary are on call 24/7, so please call us on +506 8589 7912 to report a road traffic accident.