Upgrading our Sanctuary!

The season of change!

Many of you might not know that our sanctuary opened up four and a half years ago after a sanctuary further south in Costa Rica closed down. What is now Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary was constructed very quickly, in order to provide a house for those animals which were to be transferred from the closing sanctuary. Time was of the essence, and funds were limited, but now that we have been in operation for quite some time, we are working on trying to improve all our enclosures.

One of these projects was connecting two smaller enclosures into one, large enclosure for our aracaris and toucan (pictured below). Three of our sanctuary aracaris were hit by vehicles and have suffered traumatic injuries in their wings, preventing them from flying. The fourth aracari was confiscated from the pet trade, and cannot be released because it has been very habituated to humans. Raul, our toucan, had also arrived at the sanctuary after he was found on the ground, unable to fly. Raul was previously kept in another enclosure in our sanctuary. We moved him to the new, larger enclosure with the aracaris with the hope that he will benefit from more social interaction.



aracari and toucan enclosureOur new aracari and toucan enclosure

Come and check out our new enclosure for yourself by visiting us on one of our four daily tours! Click here to reserve your tour spots now!

We are extremely happy with this improvement and aim for more of such expansions in the future. Currently, we are raising funds to build a flight enclosure for the rehabilitation of birds. Muscle atrophy in birds can set in after only two weeks of not flying. Therefore, this enclosure needs to be of substantial size in order to encourage flight and to help the bird's build-up or repair muscle. If you are interested in donating, please click here.

Moving the toucan and aracaris has allowed us to upgrade a few more of our resident animals to larger enclosures. Not only was Jimmy, our resident kinkajou moved into a larger enclosure, but our two variegated squirrels were as well! Thanks to the move into a larger enclosure, we were also able to introduce a young, male squirrel which we received last month. This new enclosure (pictured below) allows the squirrels to forage and climb better and encourages natural behavior, by keeping them active and busy.

variegated squirrel

variegated squirrel variegated squirrel 2

Julian, a yellow-naped Amazon parrot, and Godzilla, a mealy Amazon parrot have been transferred from their sanctuary enclosure and introduced into our large aviary (pictured below), together with our two, scarlet macaws. Both Amazon parrots were previously kept as pets and are therefore un-releasable. These species have been found to interact with each other in the wild, and have been spotted feeding in the same trees together. We hope that by moving the parrots into a larger enclosure, they will be encouraged to fly and move around more than they were previously doing, thus allowing them to perform more natural behaviors. As they were both kept as pets, most likely in small cages, the two Amazons never used their wing muscles and were confined to perching. We hope that with a larger enclosure, a range of perches and more social interaction, the parrots will lead a much healthier life.

Yellow Naped Amazon ParrotJulian (Yellow Naped Amazon Parrot) and Godzilla (Mealy Amazon Parrot), grooming each other

Tabby, the young, female coati which we had rescued a couple of months ago, is temporarily being housed in one of our sanctuary enclosures. We have agreed to transfer her to another institution to be introduced to a band of coatis there. Coatimundis are highly social animals, and females in the wild would live in bands of up to thirty individuals. As a juvenile coati, we feel that it is vital for Tabby to be housed together with conspecifics to help her ongoing development.

tabby female coatiTabby in her new enclosure using a new enrichment piece; a foraging box


A striped owl was brought to us after it seemed to have been attacked by a domestic animal and sustained an injury in its wing. No surgery was required and the wound is being cleaned every day and protected by a bandage. We are treating the bird with antibiotics and have begun physical therapy.

Over this past month, we have received three tropicbirds, which all seem to be suffering from the same issue. All three tropicbirds were very weak upon arrival; they were dehydrated, underweight and couldn’t even hold themselves upright. One of them was too far gone and didn’t make it past a few hours in our care. Our veterinary team is treating the remaining two with fluids, antibiotics, and vitamins and we are monitoring their health for signs of recovery.

We have also rescued another sea bird, a brown booby, from Matapalo beach. This seabird is suffering from coccidia, a gastro-intestinal parasite, and was found weak, dehydrated and anemic. We are medicating it until it is strong enough to fly and fend for itself.

releasing a sea bird on the beachCarrying out a flight test with the sea bird

Feline Update: Ocelot & Margay

Preparations for the release of the margay and ocelot are in full swing! We are currently scouting for release locations for the two wild cats and aim to soon release the two. We will be shortly welcoming students from a University in Mexico who are completing a diploma in wildlife management. The practical part of the program will be held at the sanctuary in October, and as collaboration, the university is kindly donating a GPS collar for our ocelot; allowing us to track and monitor the feline once she has been released. The margay and ocelot have been in our care for well over a year. The former was poached from the wild at a young age with the intention to be sold in the illegal pet trade and the latter became an orphan after her mother was killed in a road traffic accident. Over the course of the year, together with all of your help, we have raised money to build an enclosure for the ocelot according to GFAS (Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries) and AZA’s (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) standards and have developed our protocols extensively when it comes to raising cubs for release.

As part of the preparation for the cat's release, we had to measure the ocelot's neck to ensure a perfect fit for the tracking collar. As it was already sedated, we took the chance to perform a medical check-up on each feline, which included collecting blood samples and microchipping them for future records.

Performing medical check ups ocelotPerforming medical check-ups

Micro chipping the felinesMicrochipping the felines. Now, if we ever come across an ocelot or a margay, with this passive form of monitoring, we will be able to determine if these cats have visited our sanctuary before

Yet Another Dog Attack...

A large male ocelot (pictured below) was rescued from a dog attack in the area of Piedras Blancas. Two pit bulls mauled the ocelot and left him fighting for his life. MINAE was called who collected the injured felid and brought him directly to us. On arrival, our vets assessed his condition and began treating his wounds however, shortly after arriving, the adult cat, unfortunately, passed away.

We have discussed the effects of domestic dogs on our native wildlife several times through our media and we cannot stress enough how important it is to prevent your dogs from coming in contact with these wild animals. The best way to prevent these attacks from happening is by keeping them in a fenced yard or on a long leash. If two dogs can kill a fully-grown ocelot, imagine the damage they can do to the smaller inhabitants of this incredible jungle.

male ocelot killed by dog attack male ocelot killed by dog attack

male ocelot killed by dog attack 3 male ocelot killed by dog attack 3


The four black-crowned squirrel monkeys have finally been released! Last month they were micro-chipped (pictured below) and tagged and released together as a troop. Four of the Grey-crowned squirrel monkeys we were caring for have also been released together as a troop at a different location. All eight squirrel monkeys were brought to the sanctuary for a number of different reasons ranging from the illegal pet trade, electrical shocks and rejection from their troop.

Micro chipping black crowned squirrel monkeyMicrochipping the black-crowned squirrel monkeys before release! The microchipping we do here works exactly the same as what you would do for your dogs! A microchip is placed in the scruff of the neck, and holding a scanner over the area will show a unique code for that chip, therefore, allowing us to identify the animals.

The young chestnut-mandibled toucan which we mentioned a few months ago has been released! The young bird was rescued together with its sibling after falling from its nest. Although one of them did not make it past the first few hours in our care, we could not be happier to have been able to raise and release the remaining toucan back into the wild.

Both male white-faced monkeys which were mentioned in last month’s newsletter have been released! One of them received an electrical shock in the exact same location that another white-faced monkey was rescued from, the month before. The other male was hit by a car and suffered injuries to its arm. The right treatment and care for both of them allowed them to be released back into the wild!

white face monkey getting medical checkupThis is the male, white face monkey that got hit by a car. Here he underwent his last medical check-up before release. Our veterinarian must give the medical 'OK' before any animal is released back into the wild. 

September 2019 News