That's a wrap!

wildlife vets preforming surgery

What a year it has been! Due to the pandemic that hit Costa Rica in March 2020, we were forced to close to the public for many months, and it definitely has taken a toll on the sanctuary and our funds. Towards the end of the year, we slowly started resuming tours and have re-opened our volunteer program at a 50% capacity. We are remaining positive that we will be able to welcome more people in the New Year in order to support us in continuing our mission to provide refuge to non-releasable wildlife and to rescue, rehabilitate, and release those animals that have a chance back in the wild!

many animalsJust some of the many animals we have cared for this year

We recently held our 3rd annual Tamaleada with our staff and volunteers. After this year, we were so grateful to all come together and appreciate our accomplishments of the year and relax a little as well. Thank you to our local volunteers, interns, staff members, visitors, and everyone in between for the support. We want to finish the year extremely grateful to be where we are and continue working towards a better future.


Last week we received a distressed call about a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) that was trapped in a fishing net. The net had cut off the blood flow and its right flipper was amputated, leaving only a protruding bone. We were in contact with Laura Vanopdenbosch from the NGO Innoceana who was coordinating the transfer of the injured sea turtle from Drake bay to our center. The reptile was taken by boat from Drake bay to Sierpe, and then collected there by the local firefighters and brought to our center. Upon arrival and despite the horrendous injury, the large female was strong. Our vet team worked on the turtle, cleaning the wound and administering fluids and pain medication. Once the turtle was stable, we were lucky to have had the orthopedic specialist Dr. Kathy Wander come in and finalize the amputation with a clean cut. The female will be in recovery now for some time. We have high hopes that she will return back to the ocean, despite her amputated limb.

Incidental capture in fishing gear is one of the largest threats to marine life, specifically sea turtles. The majority of this ‘by catch’ is discarded as trash. The remaining animals that are not instantly killed by entrapment or strangulation are left with permanent damage and wounds, such as amputated flippers, often causing a slow death. Organizations such as Innoceana work in-field to release such trapped animals, but also, to create awareness amongst people about these issues and to try and promote sustainable fishing. Be aware and conscious about your impact on our natural world.

green sea turtle Chelonia mydas being X rayedThe green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) being X-rayed

X rays of the injured turtleaking X-rays of the injured turtle before her surgery

Beginning the surgeryBeginning the surgery

A female ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) was brought to us by MINAE. This older female, estimated to be around eight years old, was rescued after it was found to be weak, missing an eye and suffering from an apparent swelling in its head. Upon arrival, our vet team took x-rays and discovered that it had an old fracture in its skull. We believe she may have been hit by a car a while ago and was fortunate enough to survive. The vet team is treating some of her wounds and we will be monitoring her over the next few weeks.

Yet again, this month has been very busy in terms of new animal arrivals. An adult anteater (Tamandua mexicana) was brought to us with injuries suggesting it had been in a battle with another anteater (pictured below). It is common that male anteaters will fight one another, usually for another female. Although the wounds are deep, he is doing well and we hope for a speedy recovery.

Performing a check-up on the injured, adult anteaterPerforming a check-up on the injured, adult anteater

We have been receiving quite a few aracaris and toucans lately. This month, MINAE (Ministry of Environment and Energy) rescued another fiery billed aracari (Pteroglossus frantzii ) (pictured below) that was being kept illegally as a pet. Although kept captive, this particular aracari has not habituated to humans and is wild! We are monitoring it in a larger enclosure to check the behavior and flight capability before deciding if it is a candidate for release.

aracariThe aracari that has been moved to one of our pre-release enclosures

Another iguana (Iguana iguana) was brought to our clinic a few weeks ago with injuries in its tail, eye, and leg. A small portion of the tail was amputated but it is healing well. The iguana will complete its treatment before it will be released.


The few babies in our care are growing and progressing well. The agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) has been promoted to a pre-release enclosure to prepare it further for release (pictured below). He has been weaned off of milk now and is solely eating solid food. He will remain under our care for some more time, during which, we will assess its behavior and development and whether or not it can be released.

agoutiThe agouti is growing quickly. Now that it has been weaned off of milk, we have moved it into one of our pre-release enclosures before it is independent enough to be released

The baby anteaters (Tamandua mexicana) from October have also been upgraded again to a larger enclosure in our rehab center and have moved out of the nursery (pictured below). Although still consuming milk, they are slowly being introduced to termites.

The boa which we mentioned in last month's newsletter is still with us. Although it is doing well, the snake is refusing to eat anything we offer it. Before we can even consider it for release, we must be convinced that it can successfully hunt.

juvenile anteaterOne of the two juvenile anteaters we rescued last October


The kinkajou (Potus flavus) we have been caring for since June has finally been released in the jungle. Over the past two months, one of our wildlife interns (pictured below) has been studying the kinkajou to determine whether or not it is releasable. Andy Gauthier, a student from France, has developed a ‘release test’ specifically for kinkajous, which will allow any individual to evaluate whether or not a kinkajou is releasable determined by the results it obtains in these behavior tests. A few examples include, how the animal reacts to predator noises if the kinkajou is able to locate natural foods or hide in suitable areas. It is of utmost importance, that before releasing an animal, we are convinced it can survive.

wildlife interns releasing the kinkajouAndy, one of our wildlife interns releasing the kinkajou

The kinkajou finally releasedThe kinkajou finally released!

The woolly opossum (Caluromys derbianus) we have mentioned over the past few months and who has been in our care since August, was released, as was a common opossum.

For a few weeks we were caring for an adult toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii) that was hit by a bus and as a result, suffered from an air sac rupture. Its recovery was quick, and once it passed its flight test, we were able to release it.  The iguana that had to have its toe amputated recovered incredibly well, and was released back to the area it was rescued from.

On two separate occasions, we received a white-faced capuchin (Cebus imitator) and a howler monkey (Alouatta palliata), which were injured after climbing on electricity lines and getting shocked. In Costa Rica, the electricity lines are not insulated, and therefore, we unfortunately often receive animals that have sustained electrical shocks. We are creating hotspot maps to highlight the main areas where these accidents are taking place in the hope to present them to ICE, the electricity company of Costa Rica. This problem can only be solved by insulating all electricity lines. Fortunately, these animals recovered and were released shortly after.

Woolly Opossum releaseWoolly Opossum release

A very weak Broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus) was rescued and brought to our center. Our vet team discovered that it was suffering from a lung infection and immediately began treatment. Over a few weeks, it gained energy and began eating very well. An important part of releasing birds is of course making sure they can fly. With the new strength and great treatment, it passed the flight test with ease (pictured below) and was released.

hawks flight testA screenshot from the hawk's flight test

December 2020