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Helping Abandoned Infant Wildlife

If you find an infant animal alone, without its mother, the usual assumption is that it has been abandoned and to try and help it.  However, wildlife rarely abandoned their infants and their mother is probably close by.  Many animals leave their infants to go and forage for food and sometimes a mother is chased away by predator – she will return when it is safe for her to do so. Unfortunately, sometimes the baby might wander off or even fall from the nest, but the mom always comes back and will find the baby if she hears it crying.

Follow the below guidelines. If after a few hours the mother has not returned, Refuge for Wildlife’s Rescue Team will safely collect the infant and take it to our rescue center where we can provide specialist care.

What To Do If You Find Infant Wildlife

  • Call Refuge for Wildlife on 8824-3323
  • Keep your distance and do not touch the infant. If the infant is in imminent danger, carefully move it to a safer location nearby.
  • Do not try and feed the infant anything. Wildlife need special nutrition and feeding them the wrong thing can be fatal.
  • Never take babies away from their mothers, even if you think the mother is dead. Some animals will ‘play dead’ when they’re scared and will bite you if you try to grab their baby. Call us for advice.
  • Let the infant cry – it will draw the mother to its location.
  • Protect the area from risks and disturbances (dogs, people, noise etc)
  • Monitor the situation and see if the mother returns.
  • If the mother does not return, call Refuge for Wildlife.

Baby Birds

an infographic showing what to do with birds in an emergencyIt is a common misconception that baby birds found on the ground need help. Most of the time they are fledglings learning to fly and simply need a bit of time and practice.  Don’t worry, their parents are nearby collecting food and will come and help out. Keep pets and people away.

  • Call Refuge for Wildlife on 8824 3323
  • Hatchlings (birds with no feathers) or nestlings (birds with short, fluffy feathers) have fallen out of the nest need to be placed back into the nest – don’t worry, the parents won’t care if the baby “smells” like you. If you cannot find or reach the nest, call us for advice.
  • Keep pets away and stay a safe distance so that the parents can come back.
  • If their parents don’t come back in 2 hours, call Refuge for Wildlife.

Please use the attached guide “I Found A Baby Bird! What Should I do?” created by Spring Alive when you spot baby birds (click to enlarge).

Never Try to Rescue and Rehabilitate Wildlife Yourself

  • It is illegal to take or keep wildlife in Costa Rica.
  • Young animals have very special diets – feeding them the wrong thing can be fatal.
  • Some animals are very quickly domesticated – once this happens, it is extremely hard to get them back to the wild.
  • Please always let our wildlife experts do this job – we will always try and release rescued animals to the wild. We are happy to let you know how an animal is doing.
  • Do not encourage a human-wildlife “friendship” by providing food for the wildlife. Wildlife can become dependent and aggressive.


For wildlife emergencies, please call our 24 hr emergency hotline: 8824-3323. Learn more about what to do if you find injured wildlife by visiting our page entitled, “What To Do In A Wildlife Emergency“.