October has been comparatively low to some of the crazy months we have had recently; we never know if this is because there are fewer people in the area to report wildlife casualties or if the rainy season means animals are venturing out less and less. Either way, this only means that we have more ‘free’ time to work on small projects to improve our sanctuary and further enhance the lives of some of our long-term residents and those currently in our care.
We have fixed the roofs for our squirrels and coati to ensure they are adequately protected from the rain, and we have been able to add more branches to our large parrot enclosure to give them more space to move and interact. Changing an animal’s environment is a simple form of enrichment that encourages them to utilize their whole enclosure and stimulates exploratory and inquisitive behaviors which we always love to see.
What have our interns been up to?
Our interns have also been very productive with their time here and have produced some amazing results from their independent projects. We ask all of our interns to choose something that interests them and then dedicates certain days and hours each week for them to research this chosen topic.
Teagan, our wildlife intern, was able to complete a short behavioral study on our peccaries in relation to their daily enrichment, which helped us improve our enrichment program and made for some very happy peccary. This involved ‘challenge’ feeders, ice blocks, and lots of different scents to see what excited them. It was great to see them respond so positively to novel stimuli.
We also had two vet interns leave us this month who produced some in-depth research on toucans, and stress in animals. Manca created an extensive research document on everything she was able to discover about toucans, which remain to be relatively un-researched in the scientific world, and Marianna dedicated her time to researching stress in captive animals, which provided some fascinating insight on different methods used throughout the animal husbandry industry.
Despite having a slow month, we have still received several animals for various reasons, and we continue to care for them throughout the day and night.
At the start of the month, we received a medium blue-headed parrot and a mealy parrot that had both been kept as pets. They are both social animals, so after their respective quarantine periods, we hope to integrate them into a flock so they can express more natural behaviors.
After releasing our last two opossums a few weeks ago, we have received another four! Common opossums are the most common animal that we receive at our sanctuary. This is probably because when we do receive them, we don’t just receive one, we receive a whole litter! Common opossums can have up to 20 babies at a time; however they do not all survive. They stay in their mother’s pouch for around 70 days, until they are too big to fit, and then are transported around by holding on to their mother’s back. The mother’s pouch provides ample protection to the babies even from animal attacks and electrocutions! These possums were found in their mother's pouch after she died from being hit by a car. They become independent at an early age so once they are weaned and we are confident they can forage successfully, we will release them back into their natural habitat.
Finally, we have a few new additions to our nursery! Firstly, a baby tamandua! It has been a long time since we last raised a baby tamandua, and we know it was long overdue that we received another! This small baby weighed in at 452g and is one of the smallest we have ever received! Our staff and interns are waking up every 4 hours to feed him milk throughout the night, and we weigh him twice a week to monitor his growth and development throughout this critical stage.
We also received a baby capuchin that was being raised as a pet and was confiscated by the firefighters in the area. Domestication is one of the main reasons that an animal would not be able to be released back into its natural habitat as they often lack the skills necessary to survive; the skills they would learn from their natal troop. This capuchin is still young so we hope there is still a chance that, with the correct integration into a troop, she can learn what it means to be a wild monkey, and be released back into the wild.
Last week we received a call about a sloth which had been found weak and on the ground. The community of Dominical, along with our lifeguards, monitored him throughout the morning and decided that we needed to intervene. They handled it perfectly, and we cannot thank them enough for the respect they gave to this animal, and the education they provided to other people nearby. It is always great when our community can work together for the sake of our wildlife. Unfortunately, after a few days in our care, the sloth passed away. Our vet staff and interns completed a necropsy and found nothing wrong other than signs of old age.
Salsa, a tropical screech owl we have been raising for the last few months, was finally able to be released. The owl had grown all of her adult feathers and demonstrated her ability to hunt, so we were confident she could thrive in the wild.
We were also able to release two striped owls this month. One was hit by a car and showed no signs of external damage, but we monitored him for several days to ensure he had no internal trauma before releasing him. The other had damage to its wing which we believe was caused by it flying into some form of mesh/fencing. We have had several owls brought to us for this reason. Luckily, our incredible vet team was able to suture the injury and care for him until he was ready to fly again.
We were called to rescue a howler monkey that had been hit by a car by Playa Hermosa. Thankfully, the injuries were minor and nothing more than a cut in her jaw. After we monitored her for a few days and got the OK from our veterinary team, we released her back into the wild.
At the end of August, we received a turtle that weighed over 5kg – our largest turtle to date! She was found on the road with a large crack in her shell, which was assumed had been caused by a road traffic accident. On arrival at our clinic, and upon further investigation, our vet staff was able to determine that the shell damage was old and must have been from a previous incident. The damage to the shell seemed to have no negative impact on her, and so we knew it was time to get her back into the wild! When she left us, she weighed a whopping 6.8kg!
- October 2019 News