Meet the animals at the Bolivia Wildlife Sanctuary

Meet the animals at the Bolivia Wildlife Sanctuary

Posted by Michael Starbuck on May 22, 2016

With this month’s focus being the Bolivia Wildlife Sanctuary we thought we would introduce you to some of the animals that you might expect to meet should you decide to volunteer as well as some fun facts and some videos of the animals taken in the past few weeks.

Squirrel Monkey

These incredible monkeys, which have lived as a species for 1.5 million years and can travel at over 20mph, can be found all around the dense tropical jungles of South America. An interesting fact about these, and unlike many other New World monkeys, is that their tail is not used for climbing, but instead for balancing.

Whilst squirrel monkeys are not currently endangered they have been and continue to be kept as pets due to their small size and intelligence which has had an effect on wild populations. Today, however, their main threat comes in the form of deforestation for logging and land clearance resulting in a high number being rescued and taken to the Bolivia Wildlife Sanctuary.

Black-faced spider monkey

Boasting over 9 species, spider monkeys are one of the largest and smartest of all the new world monkeys. They spend each night in carefully selected sleeping trees and each group is led by a lead female whose responsibility it is to efficiently plan each day’s route in search for food. They have long arms and long tails which they use to help them move easily through all of the layers of the rainforest.

Bolivian night monkey

The Bolivian night monkey is one of the smaller animals you can expect to meet at the Bolivia Wildlife Sanctuary, weighing just 2.7lbs on average and growing to 13" long. This nocturnal monkey species can be found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru and Paraguay and spends the majority of its life in trees, becoming active when the moon gets brighter. Due to its size, it can find itself under threat and therefore, it tends to only keep to its well-known paths. This animal’s predators include wild cats, large snakes and birds of prey.

They sleep in groups of 2 to 5 which typically consists of an adult pair and their offspring and whilst the species is not under immediate threat, numbers are declining locally due to habitat loss.

Spectacled bear

These bears, which are 1 of only 4 bear species(another is the sun bear) that are habitually arboreal, are the only bears native to South America and are technically the largest land carnivore on that part of the continent despite the fact that only 5% of their diet includes meat.

Whilst spectacled bears are clever and able to climb some of the tallest trees in the Andes where they build platforms to help keep them hidden and to rest and store food, they are considered vulnerable by the IUCN. The threats of these incredible bears include habitat loss and poaching, mostly for religious or magical beliefs. Specific examples of this include the use of their gall bladders in traditional Chinese medicine.


Ocelots are well known mammals and you may recognise them due to their beautiful fur coats. Whilst beautiful they have been the reason why these cats have been extensively hunted in the past. In fact, 30 years ago an Ocelot fur coat could be sold for up to $40,000. They have also been frequently kept as pets, with the usual method of capture being to kill the mother to obtain the kittens, however, as they are unpredictable and of course wild they would be de-fanged, de-clawed, de-scented and altered by humans in order to make them conform to the “pet” industry. These horrendous industries led to as many as 200,000 hundred thousand taken annually in the 1970's and 1980's leading to their near extinction.

However, due to the implementation of strict controls this is no longer true and this species is an example of an animal that has been brought back from the brink with now over 800,000 thought to remain in the wild.

Red and green macaw

These birds are amongst the most famous not only in South America but also globally. This is mostly due to their incredible colouration but also due to their popularity in the pet trade. In fact, it is from the pet trade that most of these birds are at the sanctuary.

Whilst there are thought to be a large number in the wild it is also known that the species is declining in size in the wild due to exploitation by humans, and habitat alteration. It is due to this that the Red-and-green Macaw Recovery Project, a part of a re-wilding program sponsored by the Conservation Land Trust was started in 2013. The Red-and-green projects’ goals include building a network of zoos and breeders in Argentina to provide individual macaws to be released to the wild, training the birds to recognize local foods, predators and habitat, and reintroducing the birds to the wild; all to secure a long lasting future for these amazing birds.

If you would like to find out a little more about the Bolivia Wildlife Sanctuary, the work they do and how you can get involved then please take a look here.

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