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Han’s Rehabilitation and Release

Han was rescue in late May 2017 when he was hit by a car and broke his femur and hip. It was clear to us that his leg was broken, but there was no way of knowing what the correct treatment would be because we needed to get an x-ray first. Without it, we would not have enough details to provide the best care. Or options were to amputate the leg, or drive the 1.5 hours to the nearest x-ray machine and see if there’s something we could do to help Han. Although howlers do very well in the wild with one missing limb, we wanted to give Han the chance at a normal life if we could. We gave Han pain medication and wrapped up his leg as best we could to avoid any pain or further injury to the leg. Unfortunately the nearest vet with an x-ray machine is in Nicoya and that required us to travel along bumpy, winding, unpaved roads causing unwanted stress on poor Han.

The x-ray helped us to really see the damage and make the correct diagnosis and treatment plan. We discovered that the fracture was very bad and that the only way we could save Han’s leg was through an expensive surgery that was out or our normal budget. 

We wanted to give Han the best chance at a normal life so our volunteers reached out the public for donations. In a matter of hours, the Nosara community had raised the $600 needed for the surgery and Han’s appointment was booked!

In San Jose, Dr. Randall Arguedas Porras, who is a wildlife vet doctor and orthopaedic surgeon, inserted a titanium plate into Han’s leg to repair the fracture while Refuge for Wildlife’s veterinarian, Dr. Francisco Sánchez assisted with the anesthetic.

This miracle surgery saved Han’s leg, but it also meant a long rehabilitation process. Han’s recovery had been slower than anticipated, but the fracture healed and Han rebuilt the strength in his muscles. 

Han was released in February 2018 and is now back living a normal and healthy life in the forest where he belongs!

Because of our experience with Han’s injury, we decided to raise money to buy an x-ray machine. Although Han received pain medication, the drive to Nicoya for an x-ray caused a lot of unnecessary stress.  With an x-ray machine, we will be able to quickly and correctly diagnose wildlife that need immediate treatment and care without needing to transport them on bumpy, unpaved roads for 3 hours.