Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

Costa Rica


Theme Blog

Biological Crossing in Dominicalito

ICE workers

This month, together with ICE (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad), we help set up a biological crossing in Dominicalito. Over the past month we have been collecting signatures from people in the area who agreed that a monkey crossing would be suitable, due to the high occurrence of sightings of troops crossing the road. We have also taken photos to show as evidence to ICE, that wildlife does cross in the area, and that it would be extremely beneficial to have some form of bridge which enables the animals to avoid crossing on the road. After presenting our evidence to the workers, ICE agreed to fund the bridge, and constructed it with the help of their workers. Our volunteers and staff were present in order to hand out flyers to oncoming traffic, informing them of the new crossing, and to boost morale.

Post-Release Monitoring Program

Richie the Sloth

We are finally in the final stages of preparing Richie, our two-toed, male sloth for release back in to the wild. Richie has been at the sanctuary for over a year now after he got badly attacked by a dog, resulting in his leg having to be amputated due to the severity of the infection. Male sloths with an amputated limb may be released back into the wild as they still have the strength to climb around, eat and fend for themselves. A female sloth with an amputated limb, on the other hand, will be un-releasable, as she is likely to go on to reproduce and would not be able to sustain the weight of herself and her young once she climbs, specifically because juveniles remain with their mothers until they are about two years old. We have collected the money to buy Richie’s radio collar and tracker through a large fundraising campaign we held a couple of months ago. All of us at the sanctuary were so appreciative of the public support and we are looking forward to his release. Richie will be released in the forested area behind the sanctuary, allowing us to run a post-release monitoring program, having someone track him daily to assess his success back in the wild.

Sonic the Baby Porcupine

sonic the baby porcupine

Warning: cuteness overload! This is Sonic, our new baby porcupine. He was found on Pinuela beach by some tourists and look like he fall from the nest during the day when mom was sleeping and as we dont know where is the nest, we can not give him back to her. He spent too much time in the sun and in the hot sand so he came with skin burns. He is really small, around 2 or 3 weeks old and will need to be hand raised till an adult to be released. He have a lot of red hair but already have spikes under the hair, so need to be handled very carefully.

Read more: Sonic the Baby Porcupine

Injured Mom Sloth Won't Leave Her Baby's Side — Even During Surgery

Toward the end of July, a two-toed mother sloth and her 5-month-old baby found themselves terribly lost.


Together, they wandered the town of San Isidro de El General in Costa Rica, but there was something especially wrong with the mother — she was spotted with a deep, open wound on one of her feet that dangerously exposed fat and muscle.

Thankfully, the two animals were eventually rescued by officers from the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAE), who then brought them to the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary for rehabilitation.

sloths foot"We don't know what exactly happened with her foot," Larissa Calis, a biologist with the sanctuary, told The Dodo. "We just know she was in the middle of a town and this foot was hanging, in pain."

Despite the discomfort the mother must have felt, her number one priority was her baby, whom she was very protective of and held onto constantly. Calis noted that, while the mother was protective, she wasn't aggressive — perhaps knowing that the people who saved her had no intention of hurting her child.

"I cleaned out the wound, debrided the edges and stitched it back into place," Dr. Laura Berenguer, a veterinarian who operated on the mother sloth, wrote on Facebook. "To do so she underwent general anesthesia (adult sloths can be very dangerous, more so mothers protecting their young)."

The mother sloth held on to her child, even when unconscious, just as her son was content to stay in his mother's arms throughout the operation, where he felt the most safe.

sloth operation"She stays all time in the posture you can see in one picture of them, trying to cover him," Calis said.

The young sloth even continued to suckle from his mother, occasionally taking a break from feeding to "check" on the sloth suckling

"He seemed very calm to us, even going to take a look at what the vet was doing and trying to lick us," Calis said. "He was very curious."

After the operation, the mother sloth was given medication to prevent infections. She recovered with her baby at the sanctuary for 10 days before they were both was transported back to the jungle by MINAE officers.

During their stay at the sanctuary, the mother sloth's baby was taken from her just once for veterinarians to measure him and make certain that he was healthy — and even then, food had to be used to distract the mother.

Luckily, these two safely came out of a situation that could have ended badly without swift medical intervention.

"Well done beautiful little family!"

A will to survive, meet Hope the Congo

With over 100 animals currently at the sanctuary it is hard to pick which story to tell you about but this one in particular has touched us all very much. In the past few months we have been receiving an unfortunate amount of electrocution cases and it brings up a topic that is always on our minds and that we need your support on and that is the insulation of power lines.

female congo 2About 7 days ago we received a pregnant female Congo, she was electrocuted and came to us in very poor condition. The right side of her body is now paralyzed and very sad to report her baby did not make it. She is starting to recover very slowly and is moving her leg just a little bit. Our hopes are high with some physical therapy, lots of love, patience and some other natural remedies we are hoping she will survive. Since she is now paralyzed she is not a suitable candidate for release and wont be able to make it in the wild. She will remain at the sanctuary being loved and cared for. It is extremely heart wrenching and we always want to rehabilitate and release but in cases like this it is just not possible. Please stay tuned for some important information on a petition to the electric company of Costa Rica, ICE. We will demand attention to this topic and help us by using your voice with us.