Refuge for Wildlife Clinic Rehabilitation

***Warning: The following images are of injured monkeys that have been rescued by Refuge for Wildlife and due to the horrific nature of electrocution and alpha male attacks, some images may be disturbing.***

Refuge for Wildlife - Rehabiliation-9We were reluctant to share these images with the public, but we feel that everyone needs to fully understand the work that we do here at Refuge for Wildlife. Almost every day we rescue howler monkeys with injuries so severe that survival would require a miracle. Each day, our clinic volunteers, staff and veterinarian do everything to save the lives of these wonderful animals. It’s a very difficult job. Often, the injuries are so horrific that they cannot be saved. We know the following images are hard to look at. We know these injuries are disturbing and upsetting. Unfortunately we see images like this every single day. Although we prefer to focus on successful “after” images, we felt that it was time to share with the public the reality of what it means to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured monkeys here in Nosara.

Electrocution

Infant howler with severe electrical burns to more than 80 percent of his body. He did not survive.

Infant howler with severe electrical burns to more than 80 percent of his body.

Injuries caused by electrocution is what we see most often in the Refuge for Wildlife clinic. Every year Refuge for Wildlife rescues hundreds of monkeys and other wildlife that have been electrocuted due to uninsulated power lines and transformers. Electrocution is the #1 killer of howler monkeys in Costa Rica. This is a country-wide problem, but rural areas like Nosara, are where most wildlife deaths from electrocution occur. Unfortunately monkeys do not know the difference between electrical wires and natural vines and will often travel across wires to get to feeding grounds. This is especially an issue in areas of deforestation where monkeys are faced with no other choice than to risk traveling on electrical wires.

Burns on an infant howlers hands

Burns on an infant howlers hands

Thanks to the co-operative efforts of our Stop the Shocks Program and ICE, our electrical service provider, most of the electrical wires in the Playas de Nosara area were replaced with insulated cables many years ago. It is because of this hard work, that today our monkeys can travel without injury along many kilometres of electrical wires. There are, though, still many areas where uninsulated electrical wires are a problem and all it takes is a monkey to touch two live wires to be electrocuted.

Martin is currently recovering in our clinic for severe electrical burns to his entire chest, face, groin, inner legs and arms. He is an elderly monkey, but he is recovering well.

Martin spent several weeks recovering in our clinic for severe electrical burns to his entire chest, face, groin, inner legs and arms. He has since been released back to the jungle.

The main issue with monkeys using the wires is that attached to all wires are high voltage power transformers. The monkeys travel along the wires in search for food and end up needing to cross a transformer to reach the wire on the other side. These transformers are very dangerous, with many parts of the transformer able to deliver a deadly jolt of electricity to anything that touches it. Sadly, our monkeys cannot sense the danger until it’s too late. The shock is extremely painful and causes horrific electrical burns and often muscular spasms so the monkey cannot let go and sometimes even catch on fire. What is worse, is that when a member of the troop is crying out in pain, the rest of the troop will try to help which often causes several family members to become electrocuted and die. Our Stop the Shocks program has been raising money to purchase wildlife protection kits to insulate these dangerous transformers.

After being electrocuted, this infant howler tried to self-amputate rotted flesh from her foot. The three toes were amputated a few days later.

After being electrocuted, this infant howler tried to self-amputate rotted flesh from her foot.

Most of our surviving electrical burn victims are infant howlers. The reason they survive the initial electrocution is because they are holding onto their mothers. The mother absorbs most of the electrical current and the babies usually only have burns on their hands, tail and any other body part in direct contact with their mother. Some are lucky enough to have only minor burns.

At our onsite clinic, our veterinarian and skilled staff are experienced with treating electrical burns. Some amputations are performed to remove decaying limbs, fingers, toes and parts of tails, but usually the best treatment is proper cleaning of the wounds, pain relief, antibiotics and silver sulfadiazine burn cream. We are always amazed at how well infant howlers are able to adapt with their disabilities and recover with little to no scars.

 

Alpha Male Attacks

Adult male after an alpha male attack.

Adult male after an alpha male attack.

In the past year we have seen an increase in alpha male attacks in the Nosara area because of new homes being built and more and more trees being cut down. The monkeys are running out of food, resources and territory and are now starting to fight more than usual. Alpha male howlers attack the face and eyes and try to blind their rivals- it is horrific.  Most of these fights can be avoided. Adult males howl loudly to warn other troops that they are nearby. They do this all day long to announce their location so other groups can keep a safe distance.

Infant howler after an alpha male attack.

Infant howler after an alpha male attack.

Recently troops have collided because natural tree bridges have been cutdown and escape routes are less and less. Refuge for Wildlife, Nosara Civic Association and Costas Verdes have joined forces to create “Wildlife Crossings” between NCA parkland, green spaces and maritime zones. We are working closely together to map out current wildlife routes, create new and safe crossings, and to encourage businesses and home owners to leave existing natural tree bridges and plant new trees where deforestation has occurred. We mostly see large males with alpha attack injuries, but we have also rescued adult pregnant females and infants. Like lions, when a new alpha male howler takes over a troop, he kills all the babies. This is so all the females of the group will produce his offspring.  In the case of babies, they try to crush their skull. It is a gruesome act, but one that keeps the family line strong and thriving with offspring from the strongest male of the group.

Rehabilitation Images

 

Vincent was severely electrocuted when he was only a few weeks old. He lost his left ear and left eyelid. His forehead was badly burned and indented. Vincent is now a young adult monkey and thriving even with his disabilities.

Vincent was severely electrocuted when he was only a few weeks old. He lost his left ear and left eyelid. His forehead was badly burned and indented. Vincent is now a young adult monkey and thriving even with his disabilities.

 

Mama was attacked by an alpha male. Her face was almost entirely ripped off. After receiving medical care at our clinic, Mama is almost fully recovered and now spends her days in the howler nursery comforting new orphans.

Mama was attacked by an alpha male. Her face was essentially ripped off, her nasal cavities crushed and exposed, and her wounds were badly infected and inflamed so much that she couldn’t see. After receiving medical care at our clinic, Mama is almost fully recovered and now spends her days in the howler nursery comforting new orphans.

 

Jacob was electrocuted, fell several feet to the ground and was then attacked by dogs. He was a mess. After several months of care, Jacob has been released back into the wild.

Jacob was electrocuted, fell several feet to the ground and was then attacked by dogs. He was a mess. After several months of care, Jacob has been released back into the wild.

 

Lilly was electrocuted and her left arm, right thumb and big toe had to be amputated. After several months of care, Lilly was able to climb and play even with her disability.

Lilly was electrocuted and her left arm, right thumb and big toe had to be amputated. After several months of care, Lilly was able to climb and play even with her disability.

 

Joseph was electrocuted and caught on fire. He had severe burns on most of his body and had a lightning bolt scar across his chest. After several months of pain medication and burn cream, Joseph was back to being a normal, healthy monkey.

Joseph was electrocuted and caught on fire. He had severe burns on most of his body and had a lightning bolt scar across his chest. After several months of pain medication and burn cream, Joseph was back to being a normal, healthy monkey. Unfortunately Joseph later died from a viral infection.

 

Mia was found paralyzed on the road after being hit by a car. She had a very bad injury to her head that most likely caused her paralysis. After several weeks of rehabilitation, Mia was able to climb again!

Mia was found paralyzed on the road after being hit by a car. She had a very bad injury to her head that most likely caused her paralysis. After several weeks of rehabilitation, Mia was able to climb again!

 

Gemma was most likely attacked by an alpha male. She had very infected a deep wounds to her head that were filled with maggots. She is now smiling again and rehabilitating in one of our larger outdoor enclosures with other recovering monkeys.

Gemma was most likely attacked by an alpha male. She had very infected a deep wounds to her head that were filled with maggots. She is now smiling again and rehabilitating in one of our larger outdoor enclosures with other recovering monkeys.

 

Many howlers suffer from injuries similar to Bob's, but most do not survive. Bob sat on an uninsulated power transformer and was severely burned in his groin and legs. Bob has now fully recovered and has been released.

Many howlers suffer from injuries similar to Bob’s, but most do not survive. Bob sat on an uninsulated power transformer and was severely burned in his groin and legs. Bob has now fully recovered and has been released.

 

Tyson was attacked by an alpha male. His injuries had started to heal in the wild, but became infected. Tyson is now fully recovered and has been released back int the jungle.

Tyson was attacked by an alpha male. His injuries had started to heal in the wild, but became infected. Tyson is now fully recovered and has been released back int the jungle.

 

Monty was electrocuted when his mother climbed on an uninsulated power transformer. Monty face healed, but he suffered from an infection deep inside his sinuses and passed away.

Monty was electrocuted when his mother climbed on an uninsulated power transformer. Monty face healed, but he suffered from an infection deep inside his sinuses and passed away.

 

These are just a few examples of hundreds of injuries we are faced with each year. Our hard-working staff and volunteers have taken some of the most hopeless cases and turned them into a success story. Because we do not receive any government funding, this is only possible through the donations from the public to our Veterinary Services & Clinic Fund. The only way we can continue to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured wildlife is through donations. Please help us save the monkeys of Costa Rica and make a tax deductible contribution today.

Refuge for Wildlife Veterinary Services & Clinic Fund

Our Veterinary Services & Clinic Fund covers the veterinary treatment of our injured wildlife. This often involves treatment of severe burns, wound care, surgeries, amputations, and, unfortunately necessary euthanasia.  Our onsite clinic provides the majority of the routine medical services and has facilities for a veterinarian to perform most services needed by the injured animals.  Donating to the Veterinary Services & Clinic Fund will help us to buy necessary medical supplies including, prescription mediations, burn cream, bandages, medical instruments and essential medical equipment as well as help us pay for an on-site veterinarian.

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We rescue, rehabilitate and release.

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Refuge for Wildlife Veterinary Clinic

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