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Together with Innoceana we had the chance to visit the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary near Dominical to present the important conservation work of Innoceana and to show our documentary "Entangled in Costa Rica" to the staff and the volunteers of the sanctuary.

It is always exciting to show your work to others and witness their reactions personally. The feedback was amazing and everybody wanted to volunteer for the whale rescue squad that hopefully will soon be established.

After the screening we were lucky to visit the recently rescued sea turtle whose rescue and transport to Alturas were organized by Laura from Innoceana and Sandy - the on-site veterinarian who treated and operated on her - showed us how well she is doing now.

The rescued turtle was named "Lechuga" which means "lettuce" in english, because she is eating a lot of it.

Lechuga is still in confinement in a small basin in the restricted area of the sanctuary (no visitors, just staff), and everybody is happy that she is slowly recovering and getting better. She even came up on the surface for a few breaths or maybe just for a peek at her rescuers to say thank you.

Then we got an exclusive tour around the sanctuary by Christina - one of the head staff there - and she told us about the many reasons why wildlife is ending up there in the care of the Sanctuary.

Some animals were hit by car or affected in other ways through human activity or infrastructure like power grid lines. Some of them were abandoned as babies by their mothers and wouldn’t be able to survive without help. They have disabilities or neurological issues which would make it impossible for them to survive on their own and some animals were taken away by the authorities from people who held this wild and exotic animals as pets or in captivity to exploit and abuse them for financial reasons.

For example two Spider Monkeys, about 30 years old, who were confiscated from a man who held them on a chain to make money taking pictures with tourists. Or beautiful Macaws (Red Aras) who were held in cages and now have to stay in care for the rest of their lives, because they are unable to fly anymore or never have learned to find food so they can't survive in the wilderness on their own. It’s even more sickening when you know, that Macaws nearly became extinct due to the huge demand for this beautiful birds in the past.

We were greeted with an "Hola" by Julieta, an Amazon Parrot, who lives in the sanctuary with her partner Romeo who both were held as pets and confiscated by the authorities. They can't fly and we were told that they are hopping around the sanctuary and are "talking" loudly to the staff and the guests.


We saw three Capuchin monkeys Coco, Honey and Pablo, who is actually a female but was named after Pablo Escobar because she was found in a drug related environment. There is a juvenile toucan, aracaris, wild pigs, three-toed sloths, two anteaters (one with paralyzed back legs who was chilling in a hammock) and even an ocelot and a crocodile, who was part of a monitoring program, but did escape and was found later and brought to Alturas Sanctuary.

The crew at he sanctuary is trying to release as many animals as possible into the wild after they recovered from their injuries or are mature enough to survive on their own, but many of them have to live there forever.

The goal is to get more funding to create more space for all the animals. We are so grateful to the staff and the volunteers there who are trying with great effort and all their hearts to make the life of these animals easier and more comfortable. Please keep up this great work!

Take a look at their homepage to see how you can help. They also have great volunteer programs so if you are thinking about traveling to Costa Rica, check them out.

One important thing that Christina pointed out is that before you take a supposedly hurt or abandoned animal, call them and send pictures to check out if this is just a natural behavior (maybe the mother or father are close by and he/she is just teaching the child to fly for example) or if it is really an emergency.

All pictures © The Vegan Pirates

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