As a Canadian veterinary technician student, I spent the past 2 and a half years learning all about animal medicine. With Canada’s long winters and hot summers, we have a large variety of wildlife. However, I wanted to do my final placement somewhere unique – somewhere that I could walk out of my bedroom and feel connected to nature. Costa Rica provided me all of those things and so much more. Even with all my experience, I could have never imagined working with such amazing animals here at Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary. Some of the animals include toucans, sloths, owls, anteaters, coatis, howler monkeys, kites, hummingbirds, opossums and kinkajous.
On a typical day, I clean the enclosures, feed the animals, gather enrichment, administer medications and assist the veterinarians in the clinic. The work can be physically challenging, especially in the Costa Rican heat, but it is so rewarding to know you are making a difference.
While I love all the animals here, I have found myself quite fond of the sloths. Just yesterday, a male 3 toed sloth was brought in by some locals. Depending on the species of sloth, the males can be more easily distinguished, due to a patch of colored fur with a black stripe on their back. People often think it’s an injury, but it’s used to attract the females during mating season.
Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary also does a great deal of educating the public about wildlife. They offer tours of the sanctuary and create posters about certain animals, advising what to do if they come across them. The goal at Alturas is to rehabilitate the animals and incorporate them back into the wild.
I’ve already learned so much in my first weeks here at Alturas. The staff and volunteers here are extremely passionate about the animals and it shows in their work. I know I made the right decision by doing my placement in Costa Rica.
By Amy Whatley