Costa Rica Veterinary Experience — Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Operation Ocelot

Pura vida! My name is Tess and as leader of the day today I am to write a trip update for the folks at home. Today started out like any other. The group ate gallo pinto (rice and beans), eggs, and fruit. After breakfast we traveled to a local wildlife rescue center. There we witnessed two vets and three vet students perform an amputation. The operation was on an ocelot, a type of big cat. The ocelot had been hit by a car which caused an infection in its side and nerve damage in its tail. The ocelot had lost feeling in its tail because of the nerve damage. This feels strange to the animal, which caused him to severely chew his tail. Because the ocelot had lost all feeling, he continued to chew his tail. If this behavior did not stop it could harm him. Since it had been determined that the tail could not regain feeling, it had to be amputated. The broadreach group watched the vets perform the operation for about two hours. The tail was successfully amputated and the ocelot was put back in his habitat. Sadly, since the removal of his tail will affect the ocelot’s balance, he will not be able to be safely released back into the wild. However, he will remain at the wildlife center to be an educational animal for the public.

After lunch, which was mutually agreed on being “the best one yet”, the group sat down for an educational presentation about the black market trade of wild animals. Wild animals is the fourth biggest money making trade on the black market, only being topped by narcotics, counterfeit money, and human trafficking. We were shown several short videos on wildlife preservation, ecosystems, and the controversial topic of owning exotic animals as pets. Sadly, many people seek out animals like scarlet macaws, pythons, boas, and baby sloths as pets. These animals almost never survive due to the stress of moving to a new location with lack of proper care. After learning these statistics, I was shocked. Things like black market trade and miseducation make the things that the wildlife refuge are doing so important. We also learned about different countries production of fossil fuels. While China sits at number one, the United States is a close second. We had a large discussion about environmental conservation, which included coming up with ideas to help our own environment. There were many ideas along the lines of banning or using less single use plastics, only using cruelty free brands of things like cosmetics, and recycling. All of these are things that we can practise in our own homes! I’ll leave you with this question, even though it feels like a small thing, what can you do to help the environment? Ciao!

-Tess