We Rescue, Rehabilitate and Release.
Founded in January of 1999, the Refuge for Wildlife has been a place for injured, displaced and orphaned wildlife from Nosara and the Nicoya Peninsula region of Costa Rica for 20 years. Initially, these animals arrived at the Refuge for Wildlife from our local neighborhoods, then from the entire Nosara region and now from all over Costa Rica. Many of the new arrivals are very young orphaned Howler Monkeys.
While the Howler Monkeys compose the majority of the animals that pass through the Refuge, they are certainly not the only visitors.
We receive a wide range of wildlife that has included the other three native species of Costa Rican primates; squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys, and capuchins. We also receive a wild variety of birds including, parrots, toucans, hawks, owls, pelicans, doves, vultures, as well as margays, squirrels, porcupines, opossums, pizotes, raccoons, kinkajous, snakes, porcupines and bats. We also have a long term resident at the Refuge – Mariano the scarlet macaw who unfortunately has a permanent injury to his wing since his rescue many years ago.
Our Emergency Response Team responds to more than 400 wildlife emergencies each year and is specifically trained to rescue monkeys and other wildlife who are injured by falling from broken branches, high-voltage electrocutions, cars and attacks from other wildlife or domestic pets. The Refuge receives and treats all types of wild animals, but howler monkeys have become our specialty. Because of our expertise and experience with rehabilitating howler monkeys, we also receive monkeys that have been injured in other locations from all over Costa Rica.
At the Refuge Clinic, our team of professionals and volunteers provide immediate and long-term medical attention. Injured adult animals that require continued care are quarantined for a period of time and then transferred to outdoor enclosures, where they continue to receive supervision and medical evaluation. As soon as the adult animals are deemed healthy they are returned to the jungle and whenever possible, to the same location from where they were rescued.
The orphaned, infant howler monkeys and other young animals are raised at the Refuge until they are old enough be released at 4-5 years of age. Our 5-step rehabilitation program is designed specifically so that the howlers will have the essential skills required to survive in the wild without any human interaction. Newborns are cared for in our clinic as they need special medical attention and time resting comfortably inside our incubator. Infants from a few months old until 1.5 years old are housed inside our Infant Nursery where they are provided with around the clock care and are hand-fed infant formula every 2-3 hours depending on their age and needs. Inside our Junior Nursery are infants from 1.5 years to 2.5 years old. Our Juvenile Nursery is filled with young monkeys from the age of 2.5 to 3.5 years old. Our pre-release enclosure is for monkeys that have hit all their milestones, are showing appropriate behavior and foraging skills between the age of 3/4-4.5 years old.
Our goal for every animal that arrives at the Refuge for Wildlife, is to return them to the jungle as quickly as possible. At 4-5 years old, the sexually mature young adult howlers who had been orphaned are ready to move to our release enclosure which is set up deep inside the forest in a remote area. After a few weeks getting used to their new surrounding and being assessed by our veterinary team, the hatch is opened at the top of the enclosure and the howlers are free to explore their new home. Although they have the opportunity to return to the enclosure if they feel they want more time to adjust, the howlers are confident and ready to start their new lives free in the forest. Other young animals, such as pizotes, raccoons, opossums, porcupines and birds are released in areas determined best for them to survive and thrive.